Tiny arms, big impact
When asked to think of a dinosaur, most people envision the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex with its razor sharp teeth and comically tiny arms. Working for a natural history museum’s marketing team, I knew that anything dinosaur-related gets lots of attention, so it was a dream come true to learn that a pair of volunteer Burke paleontologists had discovered T. rex bone fragments in the badlands of Montana.
We kept the news quiet to protect the site until the Burke team could return the following year to excavate the fossils. That’s when we got the best news possible—they’d found the skull of the T. rex and it appeared to be in great shape (an amazing feat considering it had survived 66 million years of geologic forces).
It turns out that T. rex skulls are incredibly rare to find—there are only 15 other mostly complete T. rex skulls in the world. The skull arrived at the Burke in August 2016 still mostly covered in rock and sediment inside of a plaster field jacket to help protect it.
Over the next several years, I led the documentation of the effort to prepare the T. rex skull for research and exhibit, inviting the public to follow along through social media and live-streaming videos with paleontologists.
One of my professional highlights was being able to go to the T. rex dig site in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana with Burke paleontologists in July 2017 to shoot video as the team excavated the ribs, vertebrae and other fossils from the T. rex.
I shot, produced and edited this video along with many other updates throughout the process, and they’re now featured prominently in the new Fossils Uncovered gallery at the Burke Museum.
I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of the story of the “Tufts-Love Rex”—what paleontologists are now calling the best preserved T. rex skull ever.
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