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, Page 6 in th report)). 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.

Mr. Wills used a corral dig strategy. This process is often used in a multiple bone site that is in a relatively flat area; from the first bone you face North. Then you move 3 feet West and dig North again until you again find bone. Then you move another 3 feet West and dig North to bone. If no bone is found, you continue to dig North in a line for at least 12 feet. This defines the West side of your site. You return to the corner of the first bone and move 3 feet East and dig North to bone. You continue in this fashion until you have the cluster surrounded. When you know the overall dimensions of the site you can develop a detailed site excavation plan.

Full report

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 As these reports are preliminary, they’re not peer-reviewed yet.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