T.Rex Tuesday

T-rex Tuesday Road Trip Special

Though I won’t actually be featuring a Tyrannosaurs rex on today’s T.rex Tuesday, it’s still a pretty special occasion for me. I am traveling for work, and on my way home from a successful mission that wrapped yesterday. So Mrs. TrRT, Doggosaurus, and I pushed a little extra to take a slight detour through Vernal, UT on the way back to Colorado. Tomorrow will mark my first ever visit to Dinosaur National Monument, as we get a little sampler of what the area has to offer. That would be exciting enough, but the story of how I managed to prevent myself from making it here before now is too funny not to share.

Dinah, the pink sauropod, greets visitors entering Vernal, UT on Highway 40. The area has really embraced its role in dinosaur history, and rather readily converted it into dinosaur tourism.  

Dinah, the pink sauropod, greets visitors entering Vernal, UT on Highway 40. The area has really embraced its role in dinosaur history, and rather readily converted it into dinosaur tourism.  

I came into the dinosaur thing pretty young, as most of us did. My dream job as a child was to be a paleontologist - at a time when most people were just amazed to hear the word come out of a little mouth. My teen years weren’t kind to that dream, as I have detailed before. But it came with several other compatible interests as well. My love of kaiju movies, for instance, was born from the same passions at around the same time. (Did anyone else see the new Godzilla trailer that dropped today? I just can’t wait another month...)

Those two interests collided hard a little over 40 years ago. My aunt and uncle lived in Ogden, so we were in Utah visiting at least once a year. During one of those visits, my parents planned a big day to Dinosaur National Monument. The night before, however, Godzilla played interference. I went with my cousins to see Godzilla vs. Megalon at a local drive-in theater. We ate way too much candy and junk food, and stayed up way, way, WAY too late. When the much too early hour came to wake me up and head out, I had a full scale toddler meltdown. My delirious mind was still replaying the night’s movie, and was convinced that the dinosaurs were going to come alive and eat me. Needless to say, my parents gave up after a bit, and went back to bed. 

It’s probably a testament to their patience that I made it out of my single digits and lasted long enough to finally make it here. In retrospect, I doubt they got much sleep that night either. My cousins and I couldn’t have been all that quiet. I realized pretty quickly what I had screwed up, but that ship had already sailed. So it’s taken me more than four decades to figure out how to get back here on my own.

Work schedules will make this stop a short one. But it should give us a good idea of what to expect when we can come back again.  Tomorrow morning, we’re going to pay a visit to the Utah Field House Museum and the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry Center. I am really looking forward to it, and am already trying to figure out another trip back to spend more time here. Fortunately, we only live around six hours away now. Stay tuned for a Theropod Thursday update that is a little more on-topic. And until then, happy travels! 

T.rex Tuesday or is it Wednesday? Tinker Time

T.rex Tuesday or is it Wednesday? Tinker Time

Good afternoon, everyone! The time has come (and kind of gone again) to celebrate another T.rex Tuesday. This week, we’re dabbling along the edge of some controversy in the fossil world. Juvenile T.rex “Tinker” gained fame as probably the first major fossil find to be caught up in the post-Sue craze that turned fossils into cash cows of epic proportions. The skeleton was discovered in Harding County, SD only a few months after the gavel fell on Sue’s sensational auction.

T.rex Tuesday November 21st 2017

For T.rex Tuesday this week, I wanted to take a moment to discuss casts, and the effect that they have on enhancing smaller musuems. As an example, I can also then talk about a little-remarked museum in Orlando, Florida.

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The Orlando Science Center is geared toward a younger crowd, but includes not one but two different simulated fossil "digs" geared toward different age groups. Like many musuems, the OSC's "Dino Digs" exhibit is cast-heavy, and a casting of Black Hills Institute's BHI 3033 "Stan" is featured prominently in the middle of the group. They also have casts of Albertosaurus, Edmontosaurus, and both Triceratops porosis and Triceratops horidus, among others.

From our perspective, the T.rex Road Trip project would be a lot harder without all of these various casts to visit and feature. Let's face it: there definitely aren't enough Tyrannosaurus skeletons to meet the demand. I've heard a lot of grousing about the value of castings, or the lack thereof. And while it's true that you really can't do much meaningful study on a fossil's casting, at the end of the day, presentation is for one purpose and one purpose only: to drive ticket purchases.

To that end, castings are nothing new. Andrew Carnegie made a number of casts of his much-loved 1899 specimen of Diplodocus carnegii for different musuems all over the world. The recent displacement of one of them, named "Dippy", by a Blue Whale skeleton (impressive in its own right) in the British Museum of Natural History, was met by howls of disapproval. (He's currently on tour throughout the UK.)

I selected this photo over several that were technically better because it tells a specific story. Florida, having been underwater during much of the late cretaceous, really has no dionosaur record at all, and probably no connection to Tyrannosaurus rex. But people want to see him, and in turn are then exposed to skeletons of underwater dinosaur contemporaries like Tylosaurus (background) and the plesiosaur that is out of view to our right. I think this pretty much sums up my thoughts on the value of castings in the museum world. Any thoughts?

T.rex Tuesday November 14th 2017

Hey everyone! Its T.rex Tuesday again! Which is still our favorite day of the week that doesn't end in -aturday! Since we got the whole thing started last week with the T.rex display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, I thought I'd follow up with another Carnegie T.rex, this one a cast of the Burpee Museum of Natural History's "Jane" teen-aged Tyrannosaurus rex, which is prominantly displayed (of all places) in the middle of the musuem's gift shop. (No, I didn't find a price tag on her.)

Jane is a pretty spectacular example of a smaller Tyrannosaurus rex, and helped provide a missing piece of information to the study of the tyrant lizard. She has been given a lot of love elsewhere in this blog. I'd encourage you to go looking if you want to learn more.

The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh houses an impressive collection of Tyrannosaurus rex fossils. Including the holotype for the species, the museum is home to four displayed skeletons. We featured the holotype and a cast of Peck's rex last week. And we know about Jane. Can anyone recall what the fourth one is? (Hint: I've featured it previously in a T.rex Tuesday post as well.)

T.Rex on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History  

T.Rex on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History