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American Museum of Natural History celebrates 150th anniversary with 40-foot-long T. rex

The exhibit includes the latest discoveries about the popular theropod.

A T. rex wall projection during a preview

A T. rex wall projection during a preview of the "T. rex: The Ultimate Predator" exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The American Museum of Natural History is bringing out the big guns — and little arms — this weekend to commence its 150th anniversary celebration.

With its newest exhibit "T. rex: The Ultimate Predator," the museum will use fossils, infographics and interactive panels to present visitors with the latest discoveries about the theropod dinosaur. The largest element of the exhibit, which opens March 8 for members and March 11 for the general public, is the 40-foot-long model of an adult T. rex that includes features paleontologists say are more accurate than previous depictions, namely feathers and a leaner body frame.

Mark Norell, a paleontologist and curator of the exhibit, said even though the T. rex has been a pop culture favorite since its discovery in the early 20th century, there are still unanswered questions about its biology and ecology during its time on Earth.

"We have 40 pretty decent skeletons of Tyrannosaurus Rex. About 10 to 15 years ago we only had seven or eight," he said.

The exhibit begins with models, fossils and infographics on the Tyrannosaur genus and shows the dinosaur's beginning life cycle. Unlike most movie representations, the creature resembled a small bird more than a lizard, and its family had several genus and species subsets that varied in size. 

The exhibit also includes a partial cast of a T. rex brain and a 3D-printed model of a full brain. In addition to the new model, which bends at its hind legs and features a wide-open jaw ready for a bite, the exhibit will include various casts of Tyrannosaur body parts, including a thigh bone.

"We incorporated all of the new knowledge of how this animal looked," Norell said.

Visitors will also learn about the dinosaur via a virtual reality presentation — an interactive wall where they can watch a T. rex roam and study panels that show various parts of the fossils.

The exhibit is the first of many celebratory events the museum will hold this year to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Ellen Futter, the museum’s president, said the T. rex kickoff was special because it was linked to the strength of the museum’s scientific community.

'It seems fitting to combine these two events, because dinosaurs and especially, Tyrannosaurus rex, are an essential part of this museum," Flutter said. 

Barnum Brown, the paleontologist who discovered the first T. rex bones in 1902, had worked with the museum to hunt and study fossils.

If you go: T. rex: The Ultimate Predator, March 11-Aug. 9, at the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West & 79th Street, amnh.org

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