Dinosaurs in Their Time

Tyrannosaurus rex Archives

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Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the largest predators ever to have walked the earth. The skull of Tyrannosaurus rex was up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and equipped with 6-inch (15 cm) teeth. T. rex had massive hind legs and large, three-toed feet. The heavy tail counterbalanced the great body weight over the hips.

Shortly after the first skeleton of this large predator was collected by the famous dinosaur hunter Barnum Brown in 1902, its skull and skeleton were reconstructed for exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The skeleton was sold to Carnegie Museum of Natural History in 1942, arriving safely in Pittsburgh in 15 wooden cases and four paper cartons—for a grand shipping total of $108.

Carnegie Museum's specimen is especially important because it was the specimen on which the original description of the species was based in 1905. It is distinguished by the classification of "holotype," which means it is the specimen to which all other members of its species are compared

Get the inside scoop!

Want the play-by-play as two battling T. rex specimens are reconstructed in Dinosaurs in Their Time after nearly three years of renovation? These behind-the-scenes shots let you in on the action!

Time-lapse Webcams

Click on dates or camera angles to view video in a new window.

Tyrannosaurus rexAugust 5-9, 2005 (4.2 Mb .avi file, 30 seconds)
The sacrum is the last bone to be removed. First they weld braces to a steel shipping cage and suspend it over the bone. Next Larry custom-fits the cage securing the sacrum within. When all the preparation is complete, the team uses the crane to lift the cage and then cut the remaining supports connecting the sacrum to the base.

August 3, 2005 (3.0 Mb .avi file, 22 seconds)
Paul wraps protective plastic around the pubis and then the crew removes it. Brian extends the work platform so the crew will have a solid foundation to work from when they crate the sacrum.

August 1-2, 2005 (3.9 Mb .avi file, 28 seconds)
The rest of the legs are disassembled and crated. First Paul welds more reinforcing steel to the support structure, then the left tibia and fibula are removed followed by the right femur, tibia, and fibula.

July 28, 2005 (3.0 Mb .avi file, 22 seconds)
Phil’s crew need the crane to help remove and place the left femur into its shipping crate. Unlike the right femur, this fossil bone was not found completely intact – but even though the bone is partially reconstructed with plaster, it still weighs about 300 lbs. The right femur was found whole and weighs about 500 lbs.

July 27, 2005 (3.3 Mb .avi file, 24 seconds)
The rest of the dorsal (back) vertebrae and ribs are removed. The last vertebra is hidden from a side view since it’s tucked within the sacrum (in the pelvis). Next the crew takes off the feet and transfers them to the sandbox.

Tyrannosaurus rexJuly 26, 2005 (3.5 Mb .avi file, 25 seconds)
Larry and Paul continue removing dorsal (back) vertebrae and ribs.

July 25, 2005 (3.8 Mb .avi file, 27 seconds)
Larry and Paul begin removing dorsal (back) vertebrae and ribs. Some of the fossil bones are incomplete, and during the original reconstruction, plaster was used to fill in the gaps. Occasional dust clouds spout up when we cut through the plastered sections.

July 22, 2005 (3.0 Mb .avi file, 21 seconds)
Larry and Paul remove the caudal (tail) vertebrae up to the pelvic girdle. Brian cuts another large piece from the back of the exhibit platform.

July 21, 2005 (4.9 Mb .avi file, 36 seconds)
Paul works with Larry, Brian and Bob to remove the cervical vertebrae (neck), the forelimbs and the abdominal ribs.

July 20, 2005
Front angle (4.1 Mb .avi file, 30 seconds)
Rear angle (4.0 Mb .avi file, 29 seconds)
T. rex loses its head. Larry, Paul, Brian, and Bob are all needed to remove the two halves of the lower jaw and place them in the crate on the forklift. Then the crew gingerly removes the rest of the head and lowers it with the crane into its packing crate. Brian and Paul extend the platform's second tier, and Larry continues removing the tail.

July 18-19, 2005 (3.4 Mb .avi file, 24 seconds)
Larry, Paul and Brian finish removing all of the exhibit material down to the original exhibit platform (an angled shape). The entire crew assembles Brian’s double-deck work platform and Paul takes about 15 feet off of the T. rex tail. The design of the support structure holding the vertebrae is different from the other dinosaurs' – Larry is able to remove large segments of the tail rather than removing vertebra one at a time.

July 5-8, 2005 (3.8 Mb .avi file, 27 seconds)
Paul continues to reduce the size of the platform, removing another 3 feet from the front edge. Brian crates the Triceratops skull. Packing the skull safely requires a crate to hold the weight of the skull and its display stand – between 1200 lbs and 1500 lbs. When it comes time to add wheels, Brian and Paul use the crane to temporarily lift everything.

Tyrannosaurus rexJune 30, 2005 (3.1 Mb .avi file, 22 seconds)
The original platform for T. rex was much smaller, but was expanded over the years to accommodate other exhibitions, including the tails of Apatosaurus and Diplodocus. As work continues reducing the platform, the Triceratops skull is detached from the display base and a small section of the T. rex tail is removed.

June 29, 2005 (3.9 Mb .avi file, 28 seconds)
The last fossil bone from Diplodocus will remain mounted until a special shipping crate arrives. In the meantime, work begins on T. rex. The first job is to cut off the sides of the T. rex exhibit platform so it will fit within the span of the gantry crane.

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