Feel the ground shake? 


Very soon, Auckland Museum visitors will be able to get up close to one of the rarest, most complete T-Rex skeletons in the world as it goes on show for the first time ever.

Discover below, the palaeontological study on a new specimen of Tyrannosaurus Rex named Peter.

Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Abstract

A new specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex from the Lance Formation in eastern Wyoming (nicknamed ‘Peter’) is reported herein. The specimen shows taphonomical details including traces on the bones produced by teeth, accompanied by crushed and shattered bones apparently modified during feeding by another T. rex. These record events incurred at the end of the animal’s life or shortly thereafter and may represent extreme osteophagy.

SPECIMEN NUMBER AWMM-IL 2022.9

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Introduction

In this paper, the ichnological terminology of tooth trace kind and category is followed as reported by Tanke and Currie (1998), Pirrone et al. (2014), and Jacobsen and Bromley (2009). Interpretation of the causes of these tooth traces offers information on social and environmental causes (Lovell, 1997).

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Discovery

Peter was discovered on the Whitney Ranch, Parcel ID 41632530000400 Niobrara County, Wyoming, USA on lands located at Latitude: N43.491887 Longitude: W104.388513 (Fig. 4). This exceptional specimen was discovered by Dick Wills, who excavated an area of 1,800 square feet. As is often the case, the size of a Tyrannosaurus rex discovery site is very large, and Mr. Wills’ approach was to methodically, over many arduous years, thoroughly dig the area until he stopped at a distance of 40 feet past the last bone discovered.

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Photogrammetry

From the perspective of science, it is important that the original fossils of ‘Peter’ are available for study in unaltered form. Inset into a mount on exhibit, they are not entirely out of reach, but hard to access. High resolution 3D digital models can stand in stead of the real bones for a wide variety of research questions.

There are a plethora of methods available for such 3D scanning. The most suitable for objects of complex shape and variable size is photogrammetry, an SFM (structure from motion) scanning method based on digital photography.

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Systematic Paleontology

The specimen was collected in Niobrara County, Wyoming, USA in the Lance Formation (Maastrichtian).

The bones have well-preserved periosteal surfaces, are black in color from permineralization, preserving osteological details such as muscle scars and trace fossils on many of the bones. There is crushing, breakage, and lesions or tooth markings on some elements.
 

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Geological and Stratigraphic Setting

The new specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex, ‘Peter’, was found in the Lance Formation of Wyoming approximately thirty miles southwest of the town of Newcastle in Niobrara County.

The Lance Formation of Wyoming (USA) is a Late Cretaceous rock unit where the first Tyrannosaurus rex bones were found by Hatcher in 1890.

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Taphonomic Setting

The quarry map (Fig. 6 in the report) shows how the skeletal elements were found in their original positions in the ground as they were discovered. Their position on the map shows that although they were not directly articulated most of the bones were clearly associated as one individual and were concentrated in a curvilinear bone pod.

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Bone Density

Peter is 47% complete by bone density. This was calculated by T.rex expert Dr David Burnham from Kansas University’s Institute for Biodiversity and Natural History Museum, who is one of the world’s leading therapod paleontologists. Dr Burnham calaculated Peter’s completeness using the most scientifically accurate measurement, pioneered by the Field Museum in Chicago, home to “Sue” the most complete T.rex in the world.

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Bone Modification

Paleoecology and paleoenvironment can be determined by examining bone modification to the carcass. The more obvious and most remarked upon modifications are tooth marks (McClain et al. 2018) as these provide a useful source of information as to the potential trace-maker. However, the causes and effects of bone modification should be examined for behavioral interpretations as well (Jacobsen and Bromley 2009). The pre-burial history of the specimen must also be studied to elucidate possible scenarios that may have caused bone modifcations before death, at the time of death, or thereafter.

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

Pathology

There is an apparent subchondral erosion on the articular surfaces on the proximal portion of the ischium and the distal, lateral condyle of the femur (the medial condyle is missing). The erosive area of the femur may be due to trauma, but the condition of the ischium may be due to some other widely diverse phenomena (Rothschild and Martin, 1993). Radiographic investigation is needed to successfully diagnose both bones more precisely.

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Peter
Scientific Report T.rex Peter

References

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

Dr. David Burnham first encountered a Tyrannosaurus rex while working as the Curator of Reptiles for Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in 1991. This was with “Sue” T. rex, that was understudy before it was carted away by FBI agents in a raid resulting from a legal dispute. 

Dr. John R. Nudds, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester

Dr. John Nudds spent more than 30 years as palaeontologist at The University of Manchester, both as Keeper of Geology in the museum and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Science. He is committed to bridging the gap between private fossil collectors and academia and in 2016 was one of the team that described the new Welsh dinosaur, “Dracoraptor”.

Dr. Bruce M. Rothschild, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Bruce M. Rothschild graduated from New Jersey College of Medicine. He is a member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, American College of Rheumatology and Society of Skeletal Radiology and elected to the International Skeletal Society. He has been recognized for his work in Clinical Rheumatology and Skeletal Pathology where his special interests focus on diagnosis, clinical-anatomic-radiologic correlation, data-based paleopathology, evolution of inflammatory arthritis and tuberculosis and origins of disease.

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