Family Goes On Hike In North Dakota Badlands And Discovers A Rare T-Rex Fossil
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Family Goes On Hike In North Dakota Badlands And Discovers A Rare T-Rex Fossil

Let's get prehistoric! One family's hiking trip ended up with a rare find like no other. They discovered a T-Rex fossil. All in all not bad for these amateur fossil hunters.

A dad, his two sons, and their cousin went on a hike at the Badlands of North Dakota in 2022. That's where the discovered the specimen. All four of them have been amateur fossil hunters for some time now. They were well aware that the area was iconic for its number of T-Rex skeletons discovered. However, they didn't expect to make a find of their own. Sam Fisher, his sons, Jessin and Liam, then 10 and 7, and their cousin Kaiden Madsen made the discovery.

"My dad hollered for Jessin and Kaiden to come, and they came running up," Liam said during a news conference in Denver. "Dad asked, 'What is this?' And Jessin said, 'That's a dinosaur!'" The four ended up posing for a picture. Sam then sent it to paleontologist and Denver Museum of Nature & Science curator Dr. Tyler Lyson. The two had been friends since high school.

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"I didn't know it was a T. rex, because all I had were photos, and the knee joint looked like a duckbill," Lyson said. "Later, I started looking at the photos a little more closely. And the way in which the bone was breaking up into sheets indicated it might be a meat-eating dinosaur." His colleagues believed it was a duckbill, but a 2023 excavation proved that it was indeed a T-Rex.

T-Rex Heads To Museum

Nevertheless, Lyson set up an excavation in July 2023, bringing along the family of discoverers. "The kids were with us every step of the way, which was great," he said. "We realized it was a T. rex on the first day. We had cameras rolling while it was happening." They discovered the lower jaw of the T-Rex. "We uncovered a lower jaw with a bunch of teeth sticking out," he added.

They ended up getting a Black Hawk to fly out the bones, which will become a museum exhibit. It's also become a documentary at the museum as well. Lyson said there's about 30% of the skeleton.

"We know we have an articulated leg with the hip bones, we have a couple of tail vertebrae, and I think a decent chunk of the skull. We hope that there's a lot more of the skeleton inside the rock, but it's weird that we don't have any of the ribs, we don't have the arms, we don't have very many of the vertebrae — it well could be that there's more of it where this came from," he said.

It's possible that the bones may belong to a juvenile T-Rex, a rarity given the softer nature of their bones. Nick Longrich, a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, opened up about the find. "Tyrannosaurus isn't common and juvenile dinosaurs are incredibly rare, so young T. rex are the rarest of the rare," he said.