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Science Cafe: The Nanotyrannus Question

  • Thursday, May 16, 2024
  • 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The Nanotyrannus Question text on an orange background with illustrations of tyrannosaurs.

The Story Behind The Greatest Debate in Paleontology

The Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit is now open, and we’re celebrating at the Science Cafe! Join host Chris Smith and NCMNS paleontologist Dr. James Napoli for a dino-mite Science Cafe, “The Nanotyrannus Question: The Story Behind The Greatest Debate in Paleontology.”

Join us in person or watch the livestream on YouTube

In 1942, the skull of a small tyrannosaur was discovered in Montana. In the years since, its identity has become the topic of the biggest controversy in paleontology. One camp of researchers believes it represents a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex that died before it reached adulthood; another maintains that it is a different species altogether, which they call Nanotyrannus. Very few similar fossils have been found since, and those we have discovered have so far failed to resolve this lingering mystery. We’ll hear the history of this debate, what the case of Nanotyrannus shows us about how science is done, and the role the Dueling Dinosaurs tyrannosaur may play in solving this mystery once and for all.

Dr. James Napoli is a vertebrate paleontologist who studies the evolution of meat-eating dinosaurs, including tyrannosaurs and small bird-like theropods like Velociraptor. He has developed innovative methods to identify new dinosaur species, and has named two new dinosaurs so far. He is a postdoctoral researcher on the Dueling Dinosaurs project, focusing on the Dueling Dinosaurs tyrannosaur and its implications for tyrannosaur growth and evolution.

Grab a bite from the Daily Planet Cafe and join host Chris Smith and special guests for our monthly Science Cafe. On the third Thursday of every month at 7pm, gather with other curious minds at this after-hours event for an informal presentation and conversation about current science topics with guest experts. The Daily Planet Cafe is open 5–8pm with a full menu during the Science Cafe.


May 16
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Daily Planet Cafe

Downtown Raleigh
11 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27601 United States
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Chris Smith