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Paleontology in Montana-Dakotas

A Montana Tyrannosaurus rex excavated from BLM-administered lands in McCone County will take a spot next to previous finds that have rewritten the book on this popular dinosaur species. 

The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (Seattle) went public recently with the announcement that they had discovered the skull of a T. rex.  Paleontologists estimated that the skull could be part of a skeleton that is almost 20 percent complete. The animal was guessed to be around 15 years old at the time of death. The Burke Museum dubbed this specimen the “Tufts-Love Rex” in honor of the volunteer discoverers who initially located it.

A different T. rex, also from eastern Montana and excavated by the Museum of the Rockies, has yielded clues about determining the sex of individual dinosaurs. In a paper published in the March 2016 edition of “Scientific Reports” at, researchers identified a type of tissue found only in breeding female birds called “medullary bone.”

Medullary bone is present in birds just before and during egg-shelling. It is resorbed rapidly afterwards; in fact pigeons fully resorb the tissue within a week after the conclusion of laying. The fleeting nature of the tissue makes fossil findings with this characteristic exceptionally rare.

Field staff remove a fossil from rock.
In this photo, the head from the “Tufts-Love Rex” is being prepared for removal by field staff. The speciment was excavated by the Burke Museum on BLM land in McCone County. Photo by Doug Melton, BLM.