WASHINGTON (WJZ)—For more than 100 years, the National Museum of Natural History has had a dinosaur exhibit without a real Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Mary Bubala reports it is now one Jurassic step closer to having one of the most complete T. Rex skeletons ever discovered.
About 66 million years after roaming the Earth, this Tyrannosaurus Rex is still getting around.
Carefully packed in 16 crates, the 7-ton skeleton arrived at the National Museum of Natural History shipped from Montana, where ranchers Kathy and Tom Wankel discovered it during a camping trip.
“We’ve got a big baby, and we think he’s pretty or she’s pretty. I don’t even know if it’s a he or she,” said Kathy Wankel with a laugh.
The Wankels found their “big baby” on federal land in 1988, and they jokingly recall having to keep the discovery “under the hat.”
“And Tom said ‘I think we are going to need a bigger hat,’” Tom Wankel said.
The 38-foot carnivore will be reconstructed and become the centerpiece of a colossal new exhibit at the Smithsonian.
“This is a big deal. Smithsonian hasn’t had a T. Rex. Now it has a T. Rex,” said Kirk Johnson, Smithsonian Museum of Natural History director.
A museum hall will be gutted to make room. For now visitors can watch scientists scan the bones as part of research around the prehistoric predator.
“Little kids are like, ‘There are monsters under my bed.’ When you think about it, there really were monsters a long, long time ago like this T. Rex, which is amazing,” Carson Strassman, Smithsonian visitor.
The Smithsonian signed papers to host the fossil for 50 years, where it will be known as the nation’s T. Rex.
The exhibit featuring the T. Rex will open in 2019 in the museum’s dinosaur and fossil hall.
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