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Smithsonian's T. rex has ties to famous scientist

Friday - 4/18/2014, 7:39am  ET

T. rex (AP)
n this Tuesday, April 8, 2014 photo, released by Montana State University, Pat Leiggi, left, the Museum of the Rockies director of exhibitions and administrator of paleontology, Brian Baziak, center, preparator paleontology, and Carrie Ancell, right, senior preparator of paleontology, check the contents of a crate containing fossilized bones from a Tyrannosaurus rex in Bozeman, Mont. The specimen, known as the Wankel T. rex, is being prepared for shipment from Montana to Washington, where it will be on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's new paleontology exhibit scheduled to open in 2019. (AP Photo/Montana State University, Sepp Jannotta)

WASHINGTON -- The dinosaur skeleton known as "The Nation's T.Rex," which is now located in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, is famous for being one of the most complete fossils of its kind ever discovered.

Also, it has ties to a famous scientist.

"It's a pleasure for me to share with the nation," says Jack Horner, who helped transport the fossil to the Smithsonian this week.

Horner is a world-renowned paleontologist, a consultant for the Jurassic Park films and an inspiration behind the lead character Dr. Alan Grant.

In 1990, he lead the team that excavated the 66-million-year-old T. rex in Montana.

"When we find that many separate bones, there's a very good chance the rest of the skeleton is there," Horner says.

He says he knew immediately there was something major in the ground after a rancher discovered one of the skeleton's arms.

"The T. rex is the only animal that would have an arm like that," Horner says. "It was the very first T. rex arm that had ever been found."

The nation's T. rex has been on display at Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has loaned it to the Smithsonian for the next 50 years.

The dinosaur will be the centerpiece of a new exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in 2019.

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