Monday, January 18, 2010

Daspletosaurus progress

If you've been following the RMDRC newsletter since our museum opened, you're probably familiar with our BCT Daspletosaurus n. sp. specimen, nicknamed "Sir William". If so, skip ahead a bit.

BCT is a tyrannosaur discovered in 2001 in central Montana. It was originally thought to be in the Hell Creek Formation, making it a small Tyrannosaurus rex. Later, in 2005, it was discovered that the rocks were actually lower Judith River Formation, meaning that it is most likely Daspletosaurus. This specimen is an adult at 16 years of age (as determined by Greg Erickson) but displays some non-traditional Daspletosaurus traits, such as only 13 dentary alveoli (lower jaw tooth sockets), incidentally the same number as normally found in T. rex. Curious.

The excavation was very difficult, and took the summers of 2002 and 2003. The bones were encased in a combination of hard sandstone and ironstone concretions. Preparation was likewise slow.

This cervical vertebra is one of the last bones to be prepared from BCT, starting out as a 40 pound block of hard hard rock. After 30 hours of air scribe and air abrasion work this giant and beautiful bone is nearly done. Good job, Jacob, in getting this specimen ready for display!

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