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NPR Traces History of Barnum Brown’s First T. Rex Skeleton

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Barnum Brown discovered Tyrannosaurus rex in 1902.


It’s a story more than a century in the making. Barnum Brown’s extraordinary fossil-hunting career—which took him from a frontier farm to the world’s top fossil sites and to the halls of the American Museum of Natural History—included the discovery of the first complete skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

The priceless fossil—the one used to describe the carnivorous species now synonymous with “dinosaur”—was displayed in the Museum for more than 30 years beginning in 1906. Then the story took a twist, which is traced in a recent NPR piece “Bone To Pick: First T. Rex Skeleton, Complete At Last.”

When the skeleton went to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Natural History in the 1940s, one bone stayed behind, unnoticed. Then one day, a young researcher working in the Museum’s paleontology collection discovered a fossil bone tagged with the T. rex’s catalog number.

For more, read the full NPR story here, or go behind the scenes in the Museum’s Big Bone Room with Collections Manager Carl Mehling.

To find out more about Barnum Brown and his career at the Museum, watch the video below or check out this Q and A with Curator Mark Norell and Research Associate Lowell Dingus, who recently wrote a book about Brown.

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