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

Read about the discovery on this page, and access the full report here


The precise location of the quarry site in the Hell Creek Formation of northeastern Montana is Township 14 North, Range 36 East MPM in Garfield County, Montana, the location and coordinates of which are 46°57’37”N 107°10’15”W. The discovery process begins by removing the overburden. To ensure as much of ‘Barbara’ was discovered as possible, the team needed to remove the “overburden” above the 66 million year old layer of earth that contained the fossils of ‘Barbara’ (called the “fossil bearing layer”). Specimens like Tyrannosaurus rex can be spread out over very large distances, depending on how the skeleton was distributed before burial. 

The overburden averages about 13 feet thick. This is no task for hand tools, rather bulldozers and heavy-duty earth movers were used, along with a skidsteer, to help the team access the fossil bearing layer underneath. The site of ‘Barbara’s’ excavation is extremely remote, so even getting large equipment to the area was extremely difficult. The excavation of ‘Barbara’ went from large earth movers to shovels, trowels, knives and eventually the painstakingly delicate work of paintbrushes to uncover this beautiful, fossilized T. rex from the earth.

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 As these reports are preliminary, they’re not peer-reviewed yet.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.