RALEIGH, N.C. — Fossils can sometimes give humans a tiny peek at prehistoric times. A giant discovery in the United States however, is giving scientists a stunning look at two of time’s most famous dinosaurs. Scientists have revealed the world’s first ever complete T-rex skeleton — found after it fell to its death in a deadly duel with a triceratops.
Each of the 67 million-year-old remains are among the most intact fossils unearthed and have only been seen by a select few people since their discovery in 2006. The pair, nicknamed the “Dueling Dinosaurs,” are preserved together in what appears to be a predator-prey encounter that saw both fight to the death.
A group of professional fossil hunters — a cattle rancher cowboy and two friends — found the pair entombed in sediment in Montana. Incredibly, their body outlines, skin impressions, and injuries can still be seen. Some of those injuries include tyrannosaur teeth stuck in the triceratops’ body.
Finding the T-rex skeleton a new home
It took years to extract the 14-ton skeletons from the Earth and arrange their sale, which is why only a few dozen people have reportedly seen the historic find. Now, the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have announced they have purchased the skeleton for an undisclosed sum. The group making the donation adds the museum is due to start building their new exhibition in 2021.
Dr. Eric Dorfman, director and CEO of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, calls the fossil “one of the most important paleontological discoveries of our time.” It is also believed to the only 100 percent complete T-rex ever discovered by humans.
“We have not yet studied this specimen; it is a scientific frontier,” Dr. Lindsay Zanno, head of paleontology at the museum, adds in a media release. “The preservation is phenomenal, and we plan to use every technological innovation available to reveal new information on the biology of the T. rex and Triceratops. This fossil will forever change our view of the world’s two favorite dinosaurs.”
“Not only are we able to uncover unknown details of these animals’ anatomy and behavior, but our new dedicated facility and educational programs will allow us to engage with audiences locally, across North Carolina, and worldwide,” Dr. Dorfman explains.
Finally ready to be examined
The rancher, his friend, and a cousin located the fossils back in 2006 and reportedly struck a deal with the landowners over the find. The “Dueling Dinosaurs” themselves went to auction in 2013 at Bonhams in New York, but no bid met the reserve price of $6 million.
As negotiations dragged on for years, the fossils reportedly remained locked away in labs or warehouses. Thanks to the new donors however, this prehistoric treasure can now find a home in the North Carolina museum.
The dinosaur carcasses still have not been studied and remain entombed within sediment from the Montana hillside. Each bone is in its natural position and museum scientists will have access to biological data that is typically lost in the excavation process.
SWNS writer Fiona Jackson contributed to this report.