A preliminary report on a new specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex named 'Barbara'

Read about Barbara's bone density on this page, and access the full report here

‘Barbara’ is 44.7% complete when measured by bone density, which makes this specimen one of the top ten best T. rex ever discovered.

Dr. David A. Burnham, University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum

‘Barbara’ is 44.7% complete according to bone density, the academic world’s preferred measurement of specimen’s completeness. This approach is pioneered by the Field Museum in Chicago, which is home to the most famous T. rex in the world named ‘Sue’. The premise behind this calculation, is that an extremely large bone such as a Femur in the case of ‘Barbara’, is more important than a tiny caudal vertebra at the end of its tail. The larger the bone is, the greater the likelihood is of unique pathologies being evident, which help us identify the life experiences of each specimen and further the science of paleontology. An example of this is ‘Barbara’s’ nearly complete left Metatarsal II, which shows ‘Barbara’s’ traumatic tendon injury and contributes to the debate around Tyrannosaurus rex changing its feeding mode from predation to scavenging.

Sharing the science

We’re pleased to be able to share Preliminary Scientific Reports to help visitors who come to see these incredible T. rex understand more about them.

These reports are prepared by two of the world’s top therapod paleontologists, Dr David Burnham (University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum) and Dr John Nudds (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester), who have studied both Peter and Barbara in their university laboratories for many months. Their research has identified the unique pathologies of each specimen, such as the injury to Barbara’s leg and the marks on Peter’s leg. As these reports are preliminary, they’re not peer-reviewed yet.

It’s not standard practice for a museum to share this much information when a specimen is being exhibited for the first time, but with the benefactor’s agreement we’re keen to share the initial findings, to enhance the learning experiences that having these two specimens in our Museum provides for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Updates to the Preliminary Scientific Reports will be an ongoing process and will most likely span decades, rather than years.