How many T rex skeletons have actually been found?

I’ve heard that only 10 have been found. This doesn’t seem like an incredibly large sample. Is it possible that they are just a variant of another species of dinosuar?

Okay, first, Tyrannosaurus rex is one species of dinosaur, and a giant predator (or predator/scavenger or scavenger, depending on your preferred paleoecological theory). It’s the most common specimen of genus Tyrannosaurus, which is in turn the most common genus in Family Tyrannosauridae. And examples of various tyrannosaurs are not uncommon, across two continents and several million years of strata. You have to recognize that an articulated skeleton (or even a disarticulated but complete skeleton) is one of the rarest of finds in tetrapod paleontology. Typically, what is found are teeth and/or a number of bones sufficient to classify the find as part of such-and-such a genus. Ten skeletons of one species of giant predator is not rare; it’s probably high for the average of preserved skeletons vs. living individuals of the age when the skeleton was deposited.

Remember too that tyrannosaurs, along with ceratopsians (horned dinosaurs like Triceratops and Monoclonius), are fairly restricted in time and place: they are found in the last half dozen or so stages of the latest Cretaceous, perhaps a 10-15 million year interval, and in deposits only from (a) North America west of the mid-continent seaway of the time and (b) Asia north and east of similar barriers – basically north China, Mongolia, and eastern Siberia. Compared to sauropods, ornithopods, coelurosaurs, anylosaurs and nodosaurs, and other groups of comparative size, they’re restricted both in time and space.

So the basic answer to your question is no, they’re not only not a small sample but actually a quite large one for what might be expected. (By comparison, I think there’s only one intact therazinosaur skeleton, though they were widespread and clearly therazinosaur (AKA segnosaur) skeletal remnants are quite common over a wide area and timespan.)

Too, modern taxonomy has discovered something quite odd: a tyrannosaur was not a bigger, better, meaner allosaur or ceratosaur – the former group “Theropoda” of large carnivorous bipedal dinosaurs – but rather a gigantized coelurosaur, the small, agile carnivores like velociraptors and Compsognathus. This is proven by a series of skeletal specializations present in coelurosaurs and tyrannosaurs but not in the “medium large carnivores” like Allosaurus. (A good comparison might be if it were --hypothetically!-- discovered that black, brown, grizzly, sun, etc. bears were still members of the bear family, but that the polar bear, largest of them all, is actually a giant weasel that had evolved a bearlike build and hunting techniques as it grew to that size.)

It’s only a theory.

** D&R **

By “ten T. rex skeletons”, do you mean ten reasonably-complete skeletons, or do you just mean fragments from ten different individuals? Because if you’re just counting individuals of which we have some fragment, the number is more like 30-50 (many fossils are disputed, and may be some other species). Even just counting skulls, I’m pretty sure there are more than ten.

IIRC it’s about 20 partial skeletons from my kids dinosaur books (China bambina had quite a dinosaur phase, and a lot of skeletons are found in china)

What was Found - About 30 incomplete T. rex fossils have been found. One T. rex footprint has been found, in an undisclosed location in New Mexico, USA. Fossilized T.rex dung has also been found.

[A girl named Sue](On May 17, 2000 The Field Museum unveiled Sue, the largest, most complete, and best preserved T. rex fossil yet discovered.)

Very interesting. Thank you!!
Any links to sites that document all fossil finds for every type of dinosaur?

Hey, no Karl Rove jokes in GQ!

I would say that far more than 30 fossils have been found. Even a lone tooth is a fossil, and those tend to be plentiful enough that they are sold to collectors. Rather, what useful knowledge we have of Tyrannosaurus – what it looked like, how it lived, etc. – comes from about 15 or so skeletons of varying completeness. Many other fossils in the form of disarticulated bones or teeth have likely been found, but have added nothing to our current knowledge of the beast.

If you’re looking for mounted T. Rex skeletons, by the way, the most famous is in the Americabn Museum of Natural History. Another is at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. I knew about those two and “Sue”, but here are the others. Sue (who was briefly on travel – I saw her here in Boston) is currently at the Field Museun in Chicago. There’s another at Black Hills Museum, and a juvenile at the Burpee Museum in Rockford, Ill.

Are you sure? The Cleveland Museum of Natural History now has a Sue exhibit that’s staying for the entire winter, or possibly longer, but it’s not until you get to the very fine print that they mention that what’s on display is a cast, not Ms. Fossil herself. It may be that Boston got another such cast.

Possibly – but it was only here temporarily – it’s not here now.

Boston has a statue of a T. Rex on permanent display. It was relatively recently (within the past 10 years) updated to reflect current thinking about T. Rex. The old, upright Rex is still atround, but outside, in the cold.

It was in the parking garage for a short while. That was fun seeing that in your rear view mirror. :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, our Dinosaur Hall, where Samson (our T-Rex) resides is now undergoing renovation and won’t be open again until next year. I remember going when I was little. They’re remounting all the skeletons, since they are now believed to have been incorrectly posed (standing up right, dragging tails), and are supposed to be reassembled correctly.

Carnegie’s Dinosaurs

I’m going to miss the big ass mural of the T-Rex that hung behind our T-Rex. It was taken down a few years ago because of the inaccuracies. I hope they hang it somewhere else as a piece of history. It has the big, scary, Godzilla looking monster we all remember from our childhood.

“Warning: Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear!” :eek: :stuck_out_tongue:

Is this just because it was found in the same stratum (or whatever) as a partial skeleton, or is there another way of telling.

/my dino knowledge comes almost entirely from childhood Look and Learns

A good (but inverse) example would be that little critter that looks like a mouse, but is actually a close relative of the elephant. Sorry I can’t remember enough details to provide a link.


I did think of that scene once in the parking garage. Yikes.

Wait, you mean you guys’ musea only have one T. rex each? Man, I’m sorry.

(just wanted to take the opportunity to brag about being three blocks away from the T. rex capital of the world :D)

Basically it’s because of the size. The dung contains bone fragments of other dinos, and it’s too large to have come from any of the other theropods found in the same formation.

A king-sized theropod coprolite found in Saskatchewan