Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Community News Network

June 27, 2013

Smithsonian gets long-sought Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton

WASHINGTON — The arm was found first, by a day hiker in a rugged, remote section of a Montana wildlife refuge. The body had been frozen in time - and rock - for ages, stuck in a death pose for posterity in Hell Creek sediments.

              

When paleontologists finished excavating the old bones, they had recovered one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever, a major specimen that is coming to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History on a long-term loan.

              

The museum announced Thursday that it will borrow the T. rex for 50 years from the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns it, and the state of Montana, which has had it since the Late Cretaceous period.

              

The big beast - named the Wankel Rex, after Kathy Wankel, the rancher who made the prehistoric find - will be trucked to the Mall for National Fossil Day on Oct. 16, then put on temporary display until the museum's dinosaur exhibit closes for a $48 million renovation next spring. Eventually, the 35-foot-long skeleton will be mounted in a lifelike pose in the new dinosaur hall when it opens in 2019.

              

The trip will end the Smithsonian's long, frustrating search for the major-domo of the dinosaur world. It will also add considerable heft to the Natural History Museum's collection: Upon its arrival, the Wankel Rex will surpass just about every one of the roughly 127 million specimens and artifacts held by the world's second most-visited museum.

              

"It will be one of our most important and iconic objects," said Kirk Johnson, the Natural History Museum director. The Hope Diamond, displayed on the second floor, remains the crown jewel of the collection. But a natural history museum is nothing without dinosaurs, Johnson said - and no dinosaur captivates people quite like Tyrannosaurus rex.

              

"If you stand next to a real T. rex, it is just an awesome experience," he said. "Their teeth are the size of bananas. Their skulls are huge. They're one of the great predators of history. They're impressive in size, scale, everything. Just imagine an animal that big, that awesome, alive."

              

The Wankel Rex - which was estimated to have weighed six to seven tons - died in a riverbed near the eventual site of Fort Peck Reservoir.

              

By the time Kathy Wankel stumbled upon the first lower arm bones ever found from a T. rex, the land was controlled by the Corps. Thus, the Corps owns the skeleton, though the fossils have been conserved, studied and, for a period, displayed at Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.

              

That the Corps had a T. rex to loan was news to many of its senior leaders.

              

"They didn't know we had a dinosaur," said Sonny Trimble, who oversees curation and management of archaeological collections for the Corps. People transfer, he said. Many retired. So, "the chief engineer doesn't wake up in the morning saying, How's our dinosaur doing?"

              

In fact, the Corps has two: Another T. rex - known as Peck's Rex - was found near Fort Peck in 1997. It, too, is at the Museum of the Rockies, where it will soon be displayed.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

AP Video
House Ads
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide