Almost everything about this dinosaur -- the four-foot-long jaw, the six-inch-long teeth, and the huge thigh bones -- bespeaks the enormous power of Tyrannosaurus rex, one of the largest theropod (or meat-eating) dinosaurs that ever existed. Most of the bones here are real, fossilized Tyrannosaurus bones. They are from two specimens discovered in Montana by Museum paleontologist Barnum Brown in 1902 and 1908.
These 65-million-year-old bones were once arranged so that the dinosaur stood upright, propped on its tail. Based on new research, however, Museum scientists determined that it was more accurate to show Tyrannosaurus rex mounted on two feet, in a stalking position, with its head low, tail extended, and one foot slightly raised. The dinosaur in this position is equally if not more terrifying than before, with implications of speed added to its obvious strength and size.
While the Tyrannosaurus rex is posed as if it is stalking prey, we do not in fact know for sure whether meat-eating dinosaurs such as this were active hunters -- tracking down, attacking, and killing prey -- or scavengers, feeding on the carcasses of other dinosaurs. While its huge jaws and its strong legs would certainly be forceful hunting weapons, Tyrannosaurus rex's arms were too short to reach its mouth, and its hands had only two fingers instead of three, making it unable to grasp. The fossils discovered thus far offer some evidence about whether theropods were hunters or scavengers, but not enough to answer the question.
In order to reassemble the Tyrannosaurus rex, a wide array of professionals, with skills ranging from vertebrate paleontology to metallurgical analysis, structural engineering, and blacksmithing, was needed. Together they created the new display, with its vivid evocation of the fearsome power of the most famous of all dinosaurs.