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October 1, 2015

Article Source – Washington Post

A team of dinosaur specialists from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History drove down a tree-lined road outside Toronto, past a Carquest Auto Parts store and up to a gray, aluminum-sided building that held a spectacle 65 million years in the making.

Then they stepped inside and finally saw it: “the Nation’s T. rex” standing upright for the first time since the Cretaceous Period.

One of them gasped. Arms crossed, another quietly circled the 12-foot-tall, 35-foot-long skeleton. A third — the one who almost always has something to say — could say nothing at all.

“A rare moment,” dinosaur curator Matthew Carrano recalled that afternoon, “when I’m not talking.”

In what may be among the most dramatic fossil displays on earth, the beast was posed looming over the fiberglass body of a triceratops collapsed on its side. With one foot crushing into the horned herbivore’s ribs, the Tyrannosaurus rex’s head — which is the size of a riding mower — was bent down, appearing as if a moment away from decapitating its prey.

Discovered in Montana in 1988, the dinosaur had been exhibited in pieces until last year when the Smithsonian took possession of the coveted fossil on a 50-year loan from its owner, the Army Corps of Engineers.

Last fall, the animal’s bones were shipped to Ontario’s Research Casting International, a renowned firm of experts that has assembled dinosaurs for museums all over the world.

The Smithsonian team had imagined the ambitious presentation two years ago, first through Carrano’s hand gestures, then in pencil on sheets of paper, then on computer screens, then in a miniature 3-D model. But none of that would matter if the real-life display didn’t work.

 

Tags: Research Casting International

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