Wednesday, February 25, 2015

T.rex to be centerpiece of Smithsonian's new dinosaur exhibit

The Smithsonian Institute is getting a remarkable addition in the near future. The National Museum of Natural History will be welcoming a bonafide Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton which, will end the institute's long search for a T.rex.

The National Museum of Natural History has a fabulous dinosaur exhibit, but the mighty T.rex previously represented in the collection is a replica. The exhibit was closed last April so that the renovations in this section of the museum could get underway.

T.rex replica in the previous exhibit (now closed for renovations)

Smithsonian gets a T.rex

It turns out the Army Corps of Engineers happened to be in possession of the coveted remains of this predatory dinosaur. Thanks to an agreement made last year between the Corps and the Smithsonian Institute, the museum will have the right to display this remarkable find through a 50-year loan agreement.

The remains of the mighty predator were found in a remote section of Montana in 1988 by a local rancher named Kathy Wankel. The dinosaur fossils were found on federal property, which is how the Army Corps of Engineers came into ownership of the dino bones.

Remains dated to be 66-million years old


According to Live Science, these fossils are a "rare near-complete" skeleton, being about 85 percent intact. The skeleton was named after the rancher and is known as the Wankel T. rex.
The T.rex skeleton measures 38 feet (11.5 meters) long and weighs 7 tons, noted the Live Science report.

"If you've ever stood next to a real T. rex skull, you'll realize what a breathtaking thing it is: four feet long, with teeth the size of bananas," said Kirk Johnson, director of the National Museum of Natural History, according to Smithsonian Magazine, when the news was announced in 2013. "It is the most terrifying carnivore that's ever lived on the planet. And it really makes you wonder what life would have been like with these things prowling the North American landscape."

Johnson added the addition of this fossil collection will make the Wankel T. rex "the most viewed T.rex fossil in the world."

On display in 2019

The Smithsonian's dinosaur section is about to undergo a major renovation. I was at the museum about 2 weeks ago and it was closed. It appears the new exhibit featuring the ferocious dino will open in 2019, so it'll be a bit of a wait.  In the meantime, parts of the dinosaur will reportedly be temporarily on display. We spent our morning visiting with the butterflies and gems that day, so didn't get a chance to go exploring for bones or try and find the temporary exhibits.

Ah, so many things to see, so little time! 

The National Museum of Natural History is a popular museum for locals and tourists alike. Thousands of people enter its doors on a daily basis.

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