‘Pretty cool’: US children discover remains of adolescent Tyrannosaurus ‘Teen Rex’

What did you do during the summer holidays? Three pre-teen dinosaur enthusiasts have the answer of a lifetime: They discovered the remains of a rare juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex in the mud of North Dakota.

Scientists and filmmakers announced Tuesday that brothers Liam and Jessin Fisher, ages seven and 10 at the time of the find, and their nine-year-old nephew Kaiden Madsen were walking in the Badlands’ Hell Creek formation in July 2022 when they discovered a large fossilized leg bone.

“Dad asked, ‘What is this?’ and Jessin said, ‘That’s a dinosaur!'” young Liam exclaimed during a video call with his brother, cousin, father Sam Fisher, dinosaur experts and reporters.

They took a photo and sent it to a family friend, paleontologist Tyler Lyson of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, according to a statement.

When Lyson finally arrived at the site, he brushed off a tooth and quickly realized the enormity of what the fossil hunters discovered: an “extremely rare” juvenile T-Rex specimen that lived 67 million years ago – and could hold critical clues offer about how the king of the dinosaurs grew up.

“It still gives me goosebumps,” Lyson recalled during the phone call.

Kaiden’s reaction when he heard it was a T-Rex? “This is pretty cool, I can’t believe we just found this.”

The fossilized bones were dug up, placed in giant plaster jackets and lifted onto a truck by a Black Hawk helicopter. They were taken to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where the public will soon be able to watch the progress of the fossil’s preparation in a new discovery laboratory.

Remarkably, the saga is only now gaining momentum, after a documentary crew and renowned scientists secretly worked with leading natural history museums for almost two years to present the children’s discovery.

Paleontologists estimate that the ‘Teen Rex’ weighed about 1,630 kilograms, measured 7.6 meters from nose to tail, and was about 3 meters long – about two-thirds the size of a full-grown adult. It was believed to be 13-15 years old when it died.

“It’s remarkable to think how T. rex could have grown from a kitten-sized boy to the 40-foot, 20,000-pound adult predator we know,” said Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland and a renowned T.-Rex authority, said in the statement.

A documentary about the discovery debuts June 21 and is rolling out to 100 cities in IMAX, 3D and other formats.

“This is the kind of story that documentary filmmakers dream of capturing,” co-director David Clark said in the statement.

As for the kids, Liam and cousin Kaiden said they will continue to be amateur dinosaur sleuths, combing the Badlands for new discoveries.

But Jessin wants to become a full-time paleontologist.

“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine – probably because I saw the Jurassic Park movie and found this ‘T-Rex fossil,'” he said.

Meanwhile, Jessin offered sage advice to his fellow youth: “Put down their electronics and just go for a walk.”

Published by:

Akhilesh Nagari

Published on:

June 5, 2024

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