The Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum is (finally) getting its very own mostly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. The behemoth dinosaur is set to arrive in Washington, D.C., on October 16, according to the museum.
From there, workers will carefully assemble the 38-foot-long, seven-ton skeleton at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The skeleton, dubbed Wankel’s Rex,” has been living at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana..
However, it is now on loan to the Smithsonian after decades of attempts by the museum to acquire one of the few relatively complete T. rex fossils that currently exist.
While the specimen in question is officially known as MOR 555, it was dubbed “Wankel’s Rex” because it was discovered in 1988 by rancher and amateur fossil hunter Kathy Wankel in Montana.
The massive skeleton will stay at the Smithsonian for 50 years. Kirk Johnson, Sant director of the museum, who is also a paleontologist, stated:
“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. It is the most terrifying carnivore that’s ever lived on the planet. And it really makes you ponder what life would have been like with these things prowling the North American landscape.”
Wankel’s Rex was discovered in 1988 when the amateur fossil hunter brought some bones in for identification to the Museum of the Rockies. Museum director Shelley McKamey recalled, “I remember our curator Jack Horner asking her ‘Can you find this site again?’ because what she’d brought in were the first arm bones of a T. rex ever found.”
The massive skeleton is 85 percent complete and is still one of the most complete T. rex fossils ever discovered. The discovery site on an island in Fort Peck reservoir, was also the site of the first ever T. rex fossils found in 1902.
Along with putting the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on display, the Smithsonian will create a digital scan of every bone to further research the long-extinct species.
[Image via Robosorne]