A Dutch museum has announced that scientists searching for a fossil of Tyrannosaurus rex have finally found their quarry on a ranch in eastern Montana.
The newfound T. rex fossil is likely of an adult female, and it appears to be largely in tact and well preserved, the researchers report.
Though much of the dinosaur’s remains are still in the ground, part of its large skull, as well as parts of the of spine, tail, pelvis, and several teeth have been uncovered.[See photos of the T. Rex fossil]
“The excavation is still in progress, but it is already clear that the result will be a magnificent T. Rex,” museum officials said in a press statement.
The location of the discovery was not disclosed, nor were the size or other details about the fossil.
The announcement came from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center of Leiden, The Netherlands, which has made no secret of its desire to acquire a T. rex specimen for its collection.
“[The museum] currently has only herbivorous dinosaurs in its collection and is seeking a carnivore to complete the picture,” according to the statement, which adds with some brio that the new T. rex will be the first original fossil of its species to be exhibited outside the United States.
To help find its carnivore, Naturalis hired the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc., a self-described fossil “supply house” whose paleontologists find, excavate, cast and prepare ancient specimens for museums and other clients.
Black Hills researchers, led by the company’s president, Pete Larson, have been searching the West for the famous predatory dinosaur since spring.
In June, at one of its digs in nearby northeastern Wyoming, Larson told the press that, while T. rex remained elusive, his team had found the remains of three Triceratops, a rarity.
Though those fossils, too, had not yet been fully excavated at the time, Larson said that one of the three may be the most complete of its kind ever discovered, and suggested that the three animals constituted a family group, though these claims have been called into question.[Read more about it: "Triceratops ‘Family’ Unearthed in Wyoming, Expert Says"]
Of the new find in Montana, Larson points out that, given the paucity of T. rex specimens available for study, any new Tyrannosaurus fossil may yield welcome new data, regardless of its completeness.
“Each bone of every T. Rex provides more knowledge about this predator and its surroundings,” he said in the statement. “We can conduct decades of research on this.”
Naturalis’ resident paleontologist Anne Schulp added, “There are few known fossil discoveries of the T. Rex, while to this day may questions remain unanswered. For example, we still do not know exactly how long its tail was — no complete tail has ever been found. Distinguishing between males and females is also an interesting puzzle that is still not completely solved.”
Schulp will be on hand for a press conference on Sept. 13, when she will provide more details of the discovery, Naturalis said.