North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to Receive the “Dueling Dinosaurs”
Museum will launch global paleontology education and research project featuring “America’s most spectacular fossil”
The nonprofit organization Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences announced Nov. 17 it will gift the Dueling Dinosaurs — a magnificent pair of the world’s most popular dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops horridus — to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Rapidly buried together in a single event, the Dueling Dinosaurs are a Cretaceous cold case 67 million years in the making. The specimen includes the best-preserved skeletons of Triceratops and T. rex unearthed to date — including the only 100% complete skeleton of T. rex yet discovered — preserved together in a potential predator-prey encounter. The dinosaur carcasses have not been studied and remain entombed within sediment from the Montana hillside where they were discovered. Because of these rare burial conditions, each bone is in its natural position and Museum scientists will have access to biological data that is typically lost in the excavation and preparation processes. Entombing sediment preserves extraordinary features such as body outlines, skin impressions and other soft tissues, as well as injuries and potential evidence of interaction, such as tyrannosaur teeth embedded in the Triceratops body. This distinct preservation will provide Museum paleontologists with an unprecedented opportunity for research and education as they work to uncover the fossils and learn from them in the years to come.
“Becomin the home of the Dueling Dinosaurs is further evidence that the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the finest museums in the world,” said Susi Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “We look forward to inviting dinosaur lovers of all ages to experience this awe-inspiring fossil and learn from our talented team of paleontologists as they undertake a one-of-a-kind research project to uncover and analyze them.”
The renovation will be located on the ground floor of the innovative Nature Research Center and will include high-tech exhibit spaces, an area where visitors can explore the tools and techniques used by paleontologists, and an exemplary science laboratory dubbed the “SECU DinoLab,” where scientists will research the specimens live in front of the public. Museum guests will have a unique opportunity to enter the SECU DinoLab and talk directly to the paleontology team. This state-of-the-art facility will also feature video feeds and research updates so the public, both onsite and online, can follow along live as paleontologists work to reveal and share their Dueling Dinosaurs discoveries.
It is anticipated that the Dueling Dinosaurs and SECU DinoLab will become a “must-see” icon at what is already the state’s most-visited attraction. Construction is slated to begin in 2021.
The research team also has developed Cretaceous Creatures, a new public science project that will inspire the next generation of researchers by providing school children across North Carolina and beyond with the opportunity to make their own scientific discoveries. As part of the program, students will sort through Cretaceous sediment, discover and identify fossils from the Dueling Dinosaurs ecosystem, and send the data to Museum paleontologists to be included in ongoing research. This program was made possible by a donation from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.