SEATTLE - The four-foot long skull of a Tyrannosaurus Rex arrived on the loading dock of the Burke Museum Thursday morning, and could well prove to be one of the best-preserved skull specimens in museums anywhere, say museum scientists.
The skull, protected in a plaster cast reinforced with wood, is not the only bone found from this giant meat-eating dinosaur. The T. rex was found in northern Montana, part of the Hell Creek Formation that has produced many dinosaur fossils.
Scientists at the Burke estimate they have 20% of the skeleton so far, including vertebrae, ribs, the hips. They are optimistic that many of the other bones are still buried in the hillside awaiting excavation, but it's far too early to know just how complete the skeleton is.
It's named the "Tufts-Love Rex" in honor of two volunteer paleontologists, Luke Tufts and Jason Love, who found it on the last day of a fossil hunting expedition in 2015.
It's believed the T. rex was about 15 years old when it died, about 85% of the size of the largest Tyrannosaurs found. It died about 300,000 years before the mass extinction that happened 66 million years ago -- believed to be initiated by an asteroid that crashed into the Earth.
By projecting the overall size of the dinosaur from the skull and other parts, it's estimated the animal would have been as long as a city bus -- about 40 feet -- and the hips would have been 12 feet high
The skull, still in its plaster cast, will be on display at the Burke starting Saturday through October 2. Then the skull will be taken off display. The painstaking process of removing it from its plaster covering, as well as other pieces of soft sandstone around it, could take another year.
Excavation of the remaining bones is expected to resume next summer.