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In Images: A New Look at T. Rex and Its Relatives

Fearsome and feathered

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Copyright AMNH/D. Finnin)

At the new American Museum of Natural History exhibit "T. rex: The Ultimate Predator" (Mar. 11, 2019 to Aug. 9, 2020) visitors will come face to face with a life-size model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Feathers on the reconstruction may surprise guests, yet this is to date the most scientifically accurate depiction of the ancient animal.

Read more about the recent discoveries that are transforming scientists' understanding of T. rex.

Big and tall

t. rex: the ultimate predator

(Image credit: Illustration by Zhao Chuang; courtesy of PNSO)

A fully-grown T. rex weighed between six to nine tons (5,500 to 8,000 kilograms) and stood over 12 feet (4 meters) tall at the hip.

Jaws and claws

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Illustration by Zhao Chuang; courtesy of PNSO)

From nose to tail tip, an adult T. rex could measure more than 40 feet (13 m) long. With sharp claws and jaws strong enough to pulverize bones, this fierce theropod dominated its Jurassic ecosystems.

Groundbreaking discovery

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Copyright AMNH Library 18337)

At Big Dry Creek at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, the American Museum of Natural History's legendary dinosaur hunter Barnum Brown discovered a T. rex skeleton in 1908. A full-scale cast of the find is on permanent display in the museum's Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs.

Painstaking work

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Copyright AMNH Library 18338)

Here, AMNH preparator Peter Kaisen carefully excavates the T. rex skull at the 1908 dig at Big Dry Creek in Montana. This skeleton is known as AMNH 5027.

Fruits of labor

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Copyright AMNH Library 18340)

After much diligent work clearing sediment away from AMNH 5027 at the Big Dry Creek dig site, the skull of the enormous dinosaur was finally visible.

Securing the fossils

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Copyright AMNH Library 18341)

At the dig site in Montana, the pelvis of the T. rex known as AMNH 5027 is lifted carefully out of the ground.

Assembling the pieces

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Copyright AMNH Library 121779)

Inside the museum's Department of Vertebrate Paleontology, AMNH preparator Charles Lang and paleontologist Barnum Brown examine AMNH 5027, the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton uncovered at Big Dry Creek in Montana in 1908.

All in the family

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Illustration by Zhao Chuang; courtesy of PNSO)

Proceratosaurus, the earliest known member of the tyrannosaur group, lived around 167 million years ago. The animal we know as T. rex came along a hundred million years later.

A feathered cousin

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Copyright AMNH/D. Finnin)

Dilong paradoxus lived around 127 million years ago, 40 million years after the appearance of the earliest known tyrannosaurs. For a tyrannosaur, it had unusually long arms. D. paradoxus was the first tyrannosaur discovered with fossilized feathers. Paleontologists argue that feathers were present not only throughout the tyrannosaur family, but in the earliest dinosaurs.

Filling in gaps

T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

(Image credit: Illustration by Zhao Chuang; courtesy of PNSO)

Scientists have found few tyrannosaur fossils dating from 125 million to 84 million years ago, so a new medium-size specimen discovered in 2009 helped to fill a significant gap in the tyrannosaur family tree. Xiongguanlong baimoensis, which lived between 125 million and 100 million years ago, offers insight into tyrannosaur evolution during the early Cretaceous.