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Kids Find a “Teen Rex”!

Three kids were hunting for fossils when they uncovered part of a young Tyrannosaurus rex.

Four children and two adults pose while surrounding a plaster covering of a fossil.

Dr. Tyler R. Lyson/Denver Museum of Nature & Science

(Clockwise from upper left) Sam Fisher, Emalynn Fisher, Danielle Fisher (Liam, Jessin, and Emalynn’s mom), Liam Fisher, Kaiden Madsen, and Jessin Fisher pose around a T. rex fossil that the boys discovered. The fossil was placed inside plaster so it would not be damaged while it was being moved.

A dad, his two sons, and their cousin discovered a rare Tyrannosaurus rex fossil during a hike in 2022—and then got to help excavate the fossil, or dig it out of the ground. The fossil is now on display at a museum.

Liam and Jessin Fisher, then ages 7 and 10, were hiking with their dad, Sam Fisher, and their 9-year-old cousin Kaiden Madsen in an area of North Dakota called the Badlands, which is known for being rich with fossils. The boys were already experienced fossil hunters, so when Liam spotted a “white thing” in the ground, they agreed that it might be a dinosaur fossil.

Side by side images show three boys posing with a broken up white fossil and one of the boys posing alone with the same fossil.
Sam Fisher/Denver Museum of Nature & Science

(Left) Kaiden Madsen, Liam Fisher, and Jessin Fisher pose in front of the leg bone of a T. rex they discovered. (Right) Liam lies next to the fossil to show its size.

Sam sent photos of the object to his friend Dr. Tyler Lyson, who is a paleontologist, a scientist who studies fossils to learn about the history of life on Earth. Lyson thought the bone might have belonged to a duckbill dinosaur, making it fairly common. But there was a possibility that it was something rarer. He decided to excavate. 

Scientists started the dig in 2023 and invited Kaiden and the Fishers (including Liam and Jessin’s sister, Emalynn) to participate. When Lyson and Jessin unearthed a jaw with giant teeth, they knew it was a T. rex

“It was electric. You got goosebumps,” Dave Clark, who worked on a movie about the discovery called T. REX, told the Associated Press.

“Just a remarkable, remarkable moment,” Lyson said. “I mean, it’s not every day that you find such an amazing dinosaur.”

A man in a sun hat poses with three boys in the Badlands of North Dakota.

Dr. Kirk Johnson/Denver Museum of Nature & Science

 (Left to right) Dr. Tyler Lyson, Liam Fisher, Jessin Fisher, and Kaiden Madsen.

It’s always special to find a T. rex fossil, but this one was a juvenile, meaning it was basically a T. rex kid. It weighed about 3,500 pounds (1,600 kilograms) when it died about 67 million years ago. Scientists say it’s rare to find the fossil of a juvenile dinosaur because their bones were softer, and other animals would be more likely to eat them after they died.

Scientists uncovered about one-third of the skeleton during the dig. The fossil is now an exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where visitors will get to watch as scientists clean and sort the bones. The movie T. REX is also shown as part of the exhibit.

Check out the video for an interview with Dr. Tyler Lyson and more amazing images from the discovery!

Greg Koronowics/Denver Museum of Nature & Science

NEWS EXTRA

T. Rex Transportation

How do you move a T. rex? Very carefully! The video below shows how experts were able to transport this very heavy fossil from the site where it was found to a museum.

Greg Koronowics/Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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Did You Know?

The Badlands of North Dakota, rocky landscape with some greenery, is shown.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1959 (59.533.1620[16]); www.metmuseum.org; Photo illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

The American Indians of the Oglala Lakota Nation were the first to discover fossils in the Badlands of North Dakota. 

May We Present…

A chart called T. Rex by the Numbers shows various numbers related to the T. rex lifespan, size, appetite, and more.

© Freestyleimages/Dreamstime.com; Infographic Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Don’t Mess With a T. Rex!

A T. rex attacks two Struthiomimus dinosaurs.

© Mohamad Haghani—Stocktrek Images/Getty Images

Want to know even more about T. rex? Check out Britannica!

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Word of the Day

ferocious

Part of speech:

adjective

Definition:

: very fierce or violent

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