June 23, 2024


Two young brothers and their cousin say they were “completely speechless” when they came across a Tyrannosaurus rex bone sticking out of the ground while on a hike in the North Dakota bad countries

In July 2022, Liam and Jessin Fisher, then seven and 10, and cousin Kaiden Madsen, then nine, walked across a piece of property owned by the US Bureau of Land Management around Marmarth, a small town with a population of 101 – but also known as the dinosaur capital of North Dakota for its rich deposits of Triceratops and T rex fossils.

The trio, led by the Fisher boys’ father, Sam, hit upon the bone of the teenage dinosaur likely buried some 67 million years ago in the Hell Creek Formation, a popular paleontology playground spanning Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas stretch.

“You just never know what you’re going to find out there,” Sam Fisher told the Associated Press when the find was unveiled Monday at the Museum of Nature & Science in Denver, Colorado. “You see all kinds of cool rocks and plants and wildlife.”

Liam Fisher said he thought the bone sticking out of the rock was what he described as “piece osaurus” – a made-up name for fossil fragments too small to be identifiable. His father shared a photo with a family friend, said Tyler Lyson, the associate curator of vertebrate paleontology who works at the museum.

Lyson initially thought it was a relatively common duck-billed dinosaur, also known as hadrosaurs. But during a dig in the sandstone the following year, they didn’t find the neck bone of a duckbill as they expected – instead, it was something more unexpected.

An artist’s reconstruction of the 67m-year-old Cretaceous landscape of North Dakota with a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex. Photo: Andrey Atuchin and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science/Reuters

“Instead of finding a cervical vertebra, we found the lower jaw with several teeth sticking out of it,” Lyson said. “And it doesn’t get more diagnostic than that, seeing these giant tyrannosaurus teeth staring back at you.”

Based on the size of the tibia, experts estimate the dinosaur was 13 to 15 years old when it died and probably weighed about 3,500 pounds (1,587.57 kg)—about two-thirds the size of a fully grown adult. .

The museum estimates that the T rex fossil will take about a year for crews to fully excavate. A leg, hip, pelvis, some tailbones and part of the skull have been found so far, and it is not yet clear how complete the specimen is.

Lyson said more than 100 individual T rex fossils have been unearthed, but many are fragmentary. At the museum, he said it was a “remarkable feeling” to make the discovery and “share the preparation of this fossil with the public”.

The area where the discovery was made is 200 miles (322 km) from the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, where one of the most famous T rex finds was made in 1990.

The massive, mostly intact dinosaur skeleton became known as Sue the T rex and became the center of a protracted legal battle over ownership rights. Sue, who is more than 40 feet tall, currently sits in Chicago’s Field Museum.

Marmath is also where Tyler Lyson found the skeleton of an Edmontosaur, a type of duckbill, complete with skin, tendons and bones – and one of only three ever discovered in that condition.

After the kids discovered the latest T rex, Jessin Fisher – a fan of the Jurassic Park movies as well as an aspiring paleontologist – offered advice to other kids, telling them to “just put down their electronics and to go for a walk”.



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