WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Museum of Natural History today welcomed the Washington, D.C., arrival of a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. Called the Nation's T. rex, it will be the centerpiece of the museum's new 31,000-square-foot dinosaur and fossil hall, which is slated to open in 2019.
"This is a wonderful day for the nation," said Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, chief of Engineers and commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Together with the Smithsonian, the Army Corps is making another contribution to the landscape of Washington, D.C., bringing the Nation's T. rex to the nation's capital where it can educate and inspire future generations of scientists and engineers."
"Tyrannosaurus rex is truly the king of dinosaurs," said Kirk Johnson, the Sant director of the National Museum of Natural History. "We could not be more excited to welcome the Nation's T. rex to Washington so it can be enjoyed by our 8 million visitors a year and serve as a gateway to the vast world of scientific discovery."
The T. rex, one of two owned by USACE, was discovered on federal land in 1988 by Kathy and Tom Wankel while fishing near the Nelson Creek Recreation Area at Fort Peck Reservoir, Mont. Fort Peck Reservoir is managed by USACE's Omaha District. The fossil specimen is 38-feet long and weighs seven tons. It is one of the largest and most complete T. rex specimens ever discovered, with 80-85 percent of the skeleton recovered. The T.rex is also the first discovered with a complete arm.
The Nation's T. rex
USACE has signed a 50-year loan agreement with the National Museum of Natural History for the new T. rex.
After it was discovered and excavated, the fossil was transferred to the Museum of the Rockies by USACE for preparation and housing. The Museum has been home to the T.rex since that time. USACE's other T.rex, known as "Peck's Rex," is also housed at the Museum of the Rockies.
The T. rex was originally scheduled to arrive at the National Museum of Natural History in October 2013 to coincide with National Fossil Day. Those plans were postponed and instead, the Nation's T. rex arrived today via FedEx. An archived video of the NMNH Rotunda celebration is available to viewers on the museum's dinosaur and fossil hall website.
Preserving the nation's paleontological resources
Since 1906, Congress has passed numerous laws and regulations that recognize the importance of preserving and showcasing our Nation's heritage and paleontological resources for the benefit of the American public. These laws and regulations identify these resources as significant components of our nation's history and require they be preserved for the education and use for future generations. USACE is proud to participate in protecting and preserving the Nation's paleontological resources by maintaining expertise in natural resource and heritage assets stewardship in support of U.S. government agencies.
USACE's Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections, St. Louis, Mo. - one of the largest single organizations in the Department of Defense dedicated to addressing heritage and paleontological resources - assisted with the loan document and curatorial issues associated with this important paleontological treasure.