A Century of T. rex

by AMNH on

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Given that the dinosaur fossils on display at the American Museum of Natural History are tens of millions of years old, a single century might not seem like a long time. But we’re still excited to say that the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex that dominates the fourth floor’s Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs marked its 100-year anniversary at the Museum in 2015.

T. rex skeleton displayed standing upright
The original posture of the T. rex fossil was iconic, but proved to be inaccurate.

The crown jewel of the dinosaur halls hasn’t always been displayed there. When it was first mounted in October 1915, there was no room in the fossil halls, so the T. rex was placed in the Museum’s Hall of the Age of Man. The original mount, which moved to the fossil halls in 1917, had a standing posture in which its tail dragged along the ground behind it.

Though we now know it to be incorrect, this pose became an iconic one, and was the inspiration for many visualizations of the “tyrant lizard” in popular culture, including the unforgettable cover of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park

T Rex
Today, the T. rex is a must-see exhibit for visitors from all over the world.
© AMNH/C. Chesek

In the early 1990s, the Museum’s T. rex got a makeover that brought it into line with current scientific understanding. The tail was lifted and the head lowered, eliminating the Godzilla-like posture of the original mount. Instead, perparators and curators posed the fossil in the stalking posture for which it is now known.