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Dinosaur find for Burke Museum
Among the treasures found in Montana’s Hell Creek Formation was a reasonably complete T. rex skull, which was encased in plaster for shipment. (Credit: Burke Museum)

Paleontologists from Seattle’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture have discovered the fossil remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex, including a 4-foot-long skull, and they’re bringing the goods home with them.

The plaster-encased dinosaur skull, which weighs 2,500 pounds, will be unloaded from a flatbed truck at the museum on Thursday.

The Burke Museum says the research team excavated the reasonably complete skull, as well as pieces of the T. rex’s lower jawbone, vertebrae, ribs and teeth, during this year’s field season at the Hell Creek Formation in northern Montana.

The geological formation, which stretches across portions of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas, is a hotbed for dinosaur finds. One of the best-known specimens is Sue, a T. rex skeleton that’s now on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

In contrast, Washington state is not a dinosaur hotbed. The first evidence that T. rex-like dinosaurs once roamed the region was unearthed just last year. However, Burke Museum researchers head for Hell Creek every summer for a field season, including a nonprofit educational program known as the Discovery in Geosciences Field School, or DIG for short.

Two paleontology volunteers, Jason Love and Luke Tufts, are credited with the T. rex find. The team was led by Greg Wilson, who’s an adjunct curator of vertebrate paleontology at the museum as well as a University of Washington biology professor. Other team members include UW biologist Christian Sidor, the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology; and Dave DeMar, fossil dig crew chief.

All those teammates will be on hand for Thursday’s delivery.

Wilson and his crew have been sending other fossil goodies back to the Burke, including the imprint of a dinosaur backbone and a Thescelosaurus skeleton. (Thescelosaurus is a type of small ornithopod that came onto the scene just before the dinosaurs were wiped out in a mass extinction 66 million years ago.)

The museum plans to make further details about the T. rex find available on Thursday. The skull, still wrapped in its plaster covering, is due to go on public display in the Burke Museum lobby on Saturday.

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