I'm a museum educator with an eye for paleontology, science history, animals and the occasional bit of pop culture nonsense. My long-winded blog is here.
Taxon: Tyrannosaurus rex
Specimen Number: AMNH 5027
Year Created: 1915 (original), 1995 (remount)
Dimensions: 38 feet
How have I not done this one yet? The American Museum of Natural History Tyrannosaurus rex mount is no less than an icon. It was the first mounted T. rex ever built, and has been a destination attraction in New York for longer than the Empire State Building. Constructed by Adam Hermann, the original mount combined the original fossils of a specimen discovered by Barnum Brown in 1908 with a cast of the pelvis and legs of the 1905 T. rex holotype. Missing portions of the skeleton, including the arms, feet, and most of the tail, were sculpted based on Allosaurus fossils. When the Tyrannosaurus was unveiled in 1915, it was akin to a mythical dragon made real. A front page article in the New York Times was heavy with hyperbole, declaring the dinosaur “the prize fighter of antiquity”, “the king of all kings in the domain of animal life,” “the absolute warlord of the earth” and “the most formidable fighting animal of which there is any record whatsoever.”
In 1993, AMNH commissioned Phil Fraley Productions to restore and remount the classic Tyrannosaurus. The new mount not only corrected the dinosaur’s posture, but improved visitors’ view of the fossils by replacing vertical supports with steel cables suspending the skeleton from the ceiling. Regrettably, the new mount did not replace the legs, which are too large for the rest of the body, or the feet, which are now known to be much too robust for a tyrannosaur.
Historic photo courtesy of AMNH Research Library.
Yep, teaching people of all ages about how science works and why it matters is my day job, but I do it for fun online too. I’m just that crazy.