Family discovers rare T. Rex fossil in North Dakota

In the summer of 2022, two boys hiking with their father and a 9-year-old cousin in the badlands of North Dakota discovered large bones sticking out of a rock. They didn’t know what to think about it.

The father took some photos and sent them to a paleontologist friend. Later, the relatives learned that they had made a stunning discovery: they had stumbled upon a rare juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

Part of the fossil, which measures about 32 inches, is believed to be the tibia, or tibia, of a 10-foot-tall, 3,500-pound dinosaur that scientists call Teen Rex. Only a few such fossils have been discovered worldwide, according to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which announced the discovery Monday.

The specimen is also the most complete T. rex the museum has ever collected, the release said. He is organizing an exhibition and will screen a documentary on the subject later this month.

The friend of the father who identified the fossil, Tyler Lyson, the museum’s curator of paleontology, said in a statement that the boys had made an “incredible dinosaur discovery that advances science and deepens our understanding of the natural world.”

After identifying the fossil – found in the Hell Creek Formation, a rocky area south of Marmarth, North Dakota, that dates back more than 65 million years – Dr. Lyson led an 11-day excavation that consisted of removing overlying rock with a 70-pound jackhammer, picks and shovels. The bones were then carefully excavated, photographed and wrapped in protective plaster so they could be safely transported to the museum. Paleontologists plan to return to the site this year to continue searching for bones, the museum said.

In a video, brothers Jessin and Liam Fisher, 9 and 12, and their cousin, Kaiden Madsen, now 11, said they were busy hiking and exploring when they discovered the bones for the first time and had no idea they could be so special. . “I had no idea,” Jessin says in the video. At first, he added, Dr. Lyson thought they belonged to a duck-billed dinosaur.

At a press conference Monday, all three boys agreed that T. rex was their favorite species of dinosaur. “I was completely speechless,” Kaiden said of how he felt when they finally learned the significance of their discovery.

Dr. Lyson said he, too, will never forget the moment during the dig when researchers discovered the dinosaur’s lower jaw, with several large, jagged teeth protruding from it. He said he immediately knew it was a T. rex. “It still gives me goosebumps,” he said.

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