Taphonomic Setting

The quarry map (Fig. 6, page 20 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. The hind limb elements were in the same area near the ischium and the pubis. The left ilium was on the western edge of the bone pod widely separated from the ischium and pubis. The nearly complete but broken right femur had smaller, crushedin bone shards intact in the matrix within the bone’s medullary cavity (Fig. 19) but the distal femoral pieces were broken in several pieces and although very closely associated they were found separated from the femoral head and not in natural alignment. The right tibia was found intact, but the astragalus had separated from it along with the right metatarsal IV with both nearby. The left femur and tibia were fragmented and show evidence of bone modification. A flood event may have washed in sediment to cover the remains, but it is doubtful that the carcass was moved very far because of the closely associated elements of the left femur. Unless the specimen was still somewhat held together by integument and soft tissues those pieces would have been lost or further separated. The shape of the bone pod in the quarry curves to intersect the edge the outcrop to the northwest and to the northeast.

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 As these reports are preliminary, they’re not peer-reviewed yet.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