As the Smithsonian welcomes the come of that is fossil rex, scientists expose all that we have actually yet come learn about this splendid creature



A FedEx truck carrying the Wankel T. Rex skeleton departed Bozeman, Montana, on Friday because that the nationwide Museum the Natural history in Washington, D.C. A bronze cast of the 65-million-year-old skeleton outside the Museum the the Rockies watch on in the foreground. Photo: MSU/Kelly Gorham

At the crack of dawn this morning, a long-awaited Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, called the nation’s T. Rex, ended its epic roadway trip, once a 53-foot-long semi pulled up to the loading dock in ~ the nationwide Museum of Natural history in Washington, DC. The come of the country T. Rex marks both the end of the specimen’s lengthy journey from its previous home at the Museum the the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, and also the end of the Smithsonian’s lengthy quest to gain a T. Rex specimen.

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Originally called for that is discoverer, rancher Kathy Wankel who found it in 1988 in east Montana, the fossil was excavated by paleontologist Jack Horner in 1989 come 1990. The 65-million-year-old specimen is one of the most finish T. Rex skeletons found. In ~ 38-feet-long and weighing in at 7 tons, the fossil skeleton now called the Nation"s T-rex will gain its moment in the spotlight, as part of the museum’s dinosaur hall, which will certainly close for renovations top top April 28 to reopen again in 2019.

In June of last year, the Smithsonian reached an commitment with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the skeleton is ~ above loan to the Smithsonian for the following 50 years. In ~ 80 to 85 percent that a complete T. Rex skeleton, the Wankel T. Rex is among the most finish fossils of its sort unearthed, 2nd only to the Chicago ar Museum’s “Sue,” i beg your pardon the Smithsonian tried to obtain in 1997. Beyond these stunning skeleton displays, paleontologists have discovered some 50 T. Rex specimens, since Henry Fairfield Osborn an initial described the types in 1905.

The king of reptiles, despite mighty and well recorded in the fossil record, remains greatly a mystery to paleontologists who have actually yet to know the creature’s simple lifestyle and also biology. We"ve culled scientific reports to bring you 5 questions that have yet to be answered:

What did T. Rex look like? walk it sport scales, colors, feathers or all of the above?

Paleontologists have long discussed this. A wire of research studies in the previous decade have pointed to the potential widespread presence of either feathers or fuzz-like proto-feathers in dinosaur species. In 2012, paleontologists found that a T. Rex relative, Yutyrannus huali, had filamentous feathers. If a relative had feathers, why no the king the reptiles itself?

Until a specimen is found with maintained imprints of feathers, though, the jury is out. “We have some possibility to recognize if they had feathers due to the fact that we can discover impressions,” says Matthew Carrano, curator that dinosaurs in ~ the nationwide Museum of organic History. “But it’s very unlikely that us will ever know its color or the texture of the skin.”

Some scientists have proposed methods of predicting dinosaur color based upon the shapes of what they think to be continues to be of frameworks that save melanin, the colours responsible because that darker colors in modern animals. But other researchers imply that the structures might instead be the continues to be of bacter colonies. Evidence of T. Rex skin—whether native impressions or maintained skin—would obviously melted light top top the issue, yet so much paleontologists haven’t had any luck there. Having actually darker colored skin certainly might have been an advantageous camouflage for T. Rex as a predator.

Though proof of skin from countless other ancient reptiles exists in the fossil record, T. Rex skin has actually yet to be discovered, i m sorry raises inquiries of whether it might have been much more easily degradable. “It could be something that has to do with feathers in the skin itself an altering the texture and also the resistance that skin, which possibly made it more likely to degrade than ‘typical’ scaly skin,” says Mary Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at the phibìc Carolina State college who specialization in the remnants of ancient tissue. Schweitzer speculates that the skin that a mature T. Rex, “without the feathers, would more than likely be type of prefer chicken legs. Probably scaly, probably pretty resistant to water and degradation at least while they’re alive.”

Chance of one answer? It’s looking more and much more likely that T. Rex had feathers, but coloration and skin texture remain unknown, because that now.

What did T. Rex eggs and also babies watch like?

T. Rex juveniles are incredibly rare in the fossil record. Some scientists suggest this is due to the fact that many juveniles survived to adulthood, yet it could likewise be as result of a fossil hunters’ bias, to seek out and find large specimens. There’s also the opportunity that scientists have actually simply been misidentifying another related, much smaller types of tyrannosaur, called Nanotyrannus lancensis, that could instead represent T. Rex juveniles. Nanotyrannus frequently pops increase in the very same fossil beds as T. Rex, however, a 2010 study examining the skull the a hallmark Nanotyrannus specimen uncovered distinct distinctions in the sinus and brain casing features. Only additional fossil finds will confirm whether Nanotyrannus is a baby T. Rex or a distinctive species.

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As for T. Rex babies: perhaps the young were born through a fluffy feather coat, a common phenomenon in birds, and then lost the bulk of your feathers when they got to adulthood. “The bigger you are the harder the is to shed heat,” says Schweitzer. “So, when you’re little, as most critters are when they hatch out, you require insulation or your metabolism would have to be fast sufficient to maintain body temperature.”

Scientists don’t understand if T. Rex was totally warm blooded or cold blooded, but they think the the giant’s metabolic rate was most likely somewhere in between that of crocodiles and also birds. A study published last year in PLOS One suggests that cold blooded energetics can not have sustained dinosaurs’ energetic lifestyles, and also thus they most likely didn’t manage their human body temperature solely by moving right into the sun, as contemporary lizards and also crocodiles are known do. If the PLOS One study is true, it is even much more likely that newborns had actually feathers.

Chance of one answer: The gold conventional would it is in the epic discover of a young T. Rex inside an egg. No T. Rex eggs have ever been discovered, despite scientists have actually stumbled upon egg from plenty of other dinosaur species. (To friend or me, lock look prefer bird eggs.) “We hold out that us can uncover one,” claims Carrano.