The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

State & National News

June 29, 2013

Smithsonian gets long-sought Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton

WASHINGTON — The arm was found first, by a day hiker in a rugged, remote section of a Montana wildlife refuge. The body had been frozen in time - and rock - for ages, stuck in a death pose for posterity in Hell Creek sediments.

              

When paleontologists finished excavating the old bones, they had recovered one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever, a major specimen that is coming to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History on a long-term loan.

              

The museum announced Thursday that it will borrow the T. rex for 50 years from the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns it, and the state of Montana, which has had it since the Late Cretaceous period.

              

The big beast - named the Wankel Rex, after Kathy Wankel, the rancher who made the prehistoric find - will be trucked to the Mall for National Fossil Day on Oct. 16, then put on temporary display until the museum's dinosaur exhibit closes for a $48 million renovation next spring. Eventually, the 35-foot-long skeleton will be mounted in a lifelike pose in the new dinosaur hall when it opens in 2019.

              

The trip will end the Smithsonian's long, frustrating search for the major-domo of the dinosaur world. It will also add considerable heft to the Natural History Museum's collection: Upon its arrival, the Wankel Rex will surpass just about every one of the roughly 127 million specimens and artifacts held by the world's second most-visited museum.

              

"It will be one of our most important and iconic objects," said Kirk Johnson, the Natural History Museum director. The Hope Diamond, displayed on the second floor, remains the crown jewel of the collection. But a natural history museum is nothing without dinosaurs, Johnson said - and no dinosaur captivates people quite like Tyrannosaurus rex.

              

"If you stand next to a real T. rex, it is just an awesome experience," he said. "Their teeth are the size of bananas. Their skulls are huge. They're one of the great predators of history. They're impressive in size, scale, everything. Just imagine an animal that big, that awesome, alive."

              

The Wankel Rex - which was estimated to have weighed six to seven tons - died in a riverbed near the eventual site of Fort Peck Reservoir.

              

By the time Kathy Wankel stumbled upon the first lower arm bones ever found from a T. rex, the land was controlled by the Corps. Thus, the Corps owns the skeleton, though the fossils have been conserved, studied and, for a period, displayed at Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.

              

That the Corps had a T. rex to loan was news to many of its senior leaders.

              

"They didn't know we had a dinosaur," said Sonny Trimble, who oversees curation and management of archaeological collections for the Corps. People transfer, he said. Many retired. So, "the chief engineer doesn't wake up in the morning saying, How's our dinosaur doing?"

              

In fact, the Corps has two: Another T. rex - known as Peck's Rex - was found near Fort Peck in 1997. It, too, is at the Museum of the Rockies, where it will soon be displayed.

Text Only
State & National News
  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 20, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    WASHINGTON - Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 19, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 15, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    WASHINGTON - The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 15, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    SAN FRANCISCO - Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 13, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 12, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 12, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 10, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content