For years the New Jersey State Museum has displayed the cast of a complete Tyrannosaurus rex skull collected by Barnum Brown at the beginning of the 20th century, but now it may be getting a T. rex of its very own.
As reported last week in the Press of Atlantic City, paleontologists from the New Jersey State Museum and volunteers will be headed out to Montana this summer to recover remains of the world's most famous dinosaur. The broken-up skeleton was found by amateur fossil hunter Joseph Camburn in 2007 while searching for fossils with NJSM paleontologist David Parris. The fossil will allow scientists to further compare specimens of Tyrannosaurus across different times and places. While the bones themselves would belong to the U.S. Department of Interior, they would be on indefinite loan to the museum for preparation and study.
This new skeleton would not be the first tyrannosaur in the New Jersey State Museum collection. During the time that Tyrannosaurus was hunting in what would become the American West, its smaller cousin Dryptosaurus was stalking prey near the coast of what would become southern New Jersey, and the acquisition of the new Tyrannosaurus would help highlight this bit of biogeography. More than that, paleontologists have recently proposed that the tyrannosaurs of the East adapted differently than did those in the West, and by comparing tyrannosaurs from these two regions paleontologists can better understand how the fearsome predators evolved.