Rare juvenile T. rex discovered by young fossil hunters

Sam Fisher sent this image to Tyler Lison at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It’s a photo of her son Liam lying next to what looks like a dinosaur bone in the North Dakota badlands. The bone turned out to be the femur and tibia of a young T. rex. via image Sam Fisher.

Two years ago, three young boys were fossil hunting in the North Dakota badlands and discovered some unusual ancient dinosaur bones. on June 4, 2024, Denver Museum of Nature and Science said Its scientists later identified the bones as belonging to a rare juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. The bones will be on display at the museum from this month. And, it turns out, fossil – nickname Dean Rex – Remarkable. The reason for that is that some minor T. Rex Always Excavated. So the specimen is a valuable clue in understanding how these ferocious dinosaurs grew to adulthood.

Teenage d. Finding Rex

In July 2022, three young fossil hunters were searching a dry area Bad lands near Marmarth, North Dakota for fossils. Liam Fisher was eight at the time, his brother Jessen, 11, and their cousin Kaiden Madsen, 10. The children were accompanied by the brothers’ father, Sam Fisher.

Young fossil hunters were surprised to find large bones from the sedimentary rock that formed the Badlands Mountains. Some of the bones were fragments of rocks. Sam Fisher sent photos of this unusual find to his friend, a paleontologist Tyler Lison at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Lyson immediately recognized it as a dinosaur bone, but was unable to identify it.

A dinosaur, d.  rex, long-tailed running on two legs, chasing a bird.
An artist’s rendering of a young T. rex, discovered in 2022 by fossil hunters. Rex. Image via Andre Aduchin and Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

A shocking realization

In July 2023, Lyson and his team went to the site to excavate the fossil. The young fossil hunters who made the discovery joined the expedition. When digging, Lison is a T. He finds teeth that belong to Rex. Given the amount of exposed bone and teeth, children are a rare juvenile D. He realized that Rex had made an extraordinary discovery.

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Lison described the shocking moment Interview:

Sam’s older boy, Jessin, and I were digging, brushing, digging, brushing, and all of a sudden, a brush and a T-rex tooth … comes out, and I pick it up. I see Jessin. He breathes. He and I want to share this moment. Then I started brushing where the tooth came out and I could see that all three teeth were lined up.

We just discovered the lower jaw of this young T-Rex specimen. It was one of the most remarkable, remarkable moments. And you could tell by its size that it was a juvenile. We can tell we had a small dinosaur based on both the size of the teeth and the size of the leg bones.

A long black tooth with a sharp edge.  A little paint next to it.
A fossilized rooted tooth from a young T. rex. via image Tyler R. Liaison.

Juvenile d. Extracting the rex

For 11 days, the team carefully excavated a large rock containing the fossil. They wrapped it in plaster and a burlap jacket. The 6,000-pound package was then airlifted by a Black Hawk helicopter and placed on a heavy-duty trailer. From there it started its journey to Denver, Colorado.

A large white object (a rock surrounded by burlap and plaster) with a large net underneath.  Six people stand around it.
A large rock containing the fossil was surrounded by the excavation team, pictured here, in a burlap and plaster jacket. They netted the package so that a Black Hawk helicopter could pick it up and place it on a trailer for transport to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. via image Tyler R. Liaison.

At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, scientists removed some of the burlap and plaster jacket that protected the fossil during transport. The museum has now begun the painstaking process of extracting the fossil from the rock.

Museum declared Beginning June 21, 2024, visitors will be able to watch scientists work in real time as they carefully remove the fossil from the rock. They also said that the discovery and excavations of Dean Rex will feature in a New movie About T. rex opens in IMAX theaters nationwide.

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What do we know about Dean Rex?

Dinosaur rexOften called T. rex, lived during Late Cretaceous epoch, which ranged from 100 to 66 million years ago. Its fossils have been found only in western North America. D. rex was a large bipedal carnivorous dinosaur with sharp sharp saw-edged teeth. Its powerful jaws and teeth can break bones. Scientists estimate that adults reached lengths of 40 feet (12 m) or more. It can weigh up to 11,000 pounds (5,000 kg).

Dean Rex is a remarkable discovery. That’s because most T. rex fossils are adults. There are not many juveniles in the fossil record. Researchers need more children to compare them with, so they can better understand how these ferocious creatures grow and develop from their teenage years to adulthood.

The Dean Rex fossil is a partial skeleton with parts of the skull, tail, legs, and pelvis. It’s only about 30% of the total skeleton, but scientists still have a lot to learn from it.

A D.  A diagram of a rex skeleton, with some areas shaded in blue.
The Teen Rex fossil is an incomplete skeleton consisting of a skull, tail, leg, and part of a pelvis. Those parts are shaded blue in this drawing of a T. rex skeleton. via image Scott Hartman.

D. Answers from the Rex skeleton

For example, how did they know Dean Rex was a minor? Its tibia (or jawbone) provided the first clue. It measured about 32 inches (81 cm). A fully developed D. Rex’s tibia would have been about 44 inches (112 cm) long. A teen rex’s teeth were also smaller than those of an adult.

Additionally, based on the size of the bones, researchers estimate that the teen rex was about 25 feet (7.5 m) long and 10 feet (3 m) tall. They believe the dinosaur weighed about 3,500 pounds (1,590 kg). But this is only an initial estimate. They need to recover more bones to get an accurate idea of ​​the size of the teenage rex.

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A man and three children stand against a gray rock.
Paleontologist Tyler Lyson is pictured here with the 3 young fossil hunters who discovered the Dean Rex: Liam Fisher, Jessen Fisher and Kaiden Madsen. via image Kirk Johnson.

Bottom line: A family fossil hunter in the North Dakota badlands stumbles upon an intriguing fossil, which later turns out to be a rare juvenile T. Identified as Rex.


Denver Museum of Nature & Science Online Magazine

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

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