For immediate release ‐ November 17, 2020
Museum will launch global paleontology education and research project featuring “America’s most spectacular fossil”
[Raleigh, N.C. — Nov. 17, 2020] — The nonprofit organization Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences announced today it will gift the Dueling Dinosaurs — a magnificent pair of the world’s most popular dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops horridus — to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
Rapidly buried together in a single event, the Dueling Dinosaurs are a Cretaceous cold case 67 million years in the making. The specimen includes the best-preserved skeletons of Triceratops and T. rex unearthed to date — including the only 100% complete skeleton of T. rex yet discovered — preserved together in a potential predator-prey encounter. The dinosaur carcasses have not been studied and remain entombed within sediment from the Montana hillside where they were discovered. Because of these rare burial conditions, each bone is in its natural position and Museum scientists will have access to biological data that is typically lost in the excavation and preparation processes. Entombing sediment preserves extraordinary features such as body outlines, skin impressions and other soft tissues, as well as injuries and potential evidence of interaction, such as tyrannosaur teeth embedded in the Triceratops body. This distinct preservation will provide Museum paleontologists with an unprecedented opportunity for research and education as they work to uncover the fossils and learn from them in the years to come.
“It is an immeasurable honor to welcome these specimens as they take up permanent residence here at the Museum,” said Jason Barron, chair of the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “Dueling Dinosaurs is a singular find; we are incredibly grateful to our supporters for making this a reality and allowing our visitors – in-person and virtual alike – to experience this journey with us.”
“Becoming the home of the Dueling Dinosaurs is further evidence that the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is one of the finest museums in the world,” said Susi Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “We look forward to inviting dinosaur lovers of all ages to experience this awe-inspiring fossil and learn from our talented team of paleontologists as they undertake a one-of-a-kind research project to uncover and analyze them.”
In conjunction with the fossil acquisition, design is nearing completion on a globally unique, behind-the-scenes visitor experience at the Museum in downtown Raleigh. The exhibit will be the first physical expansion of the Museum in a decade and will build on its sustained leadership in public engagement with scientific research.
“The Museum is thrilled to have the unique opportunity to house and research one of the most important paleontological discoveries of our time,” said Dr. Eric Dorfman, director and CEO of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “Not only are we able to uncover unknown details of these animals’ anatomy and behavior, but our new dedicated facility and educational programs will allow us to engage with audiences locally, across North Carolina, and worldwide.”
The renovation will be located on the ground floor of the innovative Nature Research Center and will include high-tech exhibit spaces, an area where visitors can explore the tools and techniques used by paleontologists, and an exemplary science laboratory dubbed the “SECU DinoLab,” where scientists will research the specimens live in front of the public. Museum guests will have a unique opportunity to enter the SECU DinoLab and talk directly to the paleontology team. This state-of-the-art facility will also feature video feeds and research updates so the public, both onsite and online, can follow along live as paleontologists work to reveal and share their Dueling Dinosaurs discoveries.
“We have not yet studied this specimen; it is a scientific frontier. The preservation is phenomenal, and we plan to use every technological innovation available to reveal new information on the biology of T. rex and Triceratops. This fossil will forever change our view of the world’s two favorite dinosaurs,” said Dr. Lindsay Zanno, head of paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and associate research professor at North Carolina State University. “The way we have designed the entire experience — inviting the public to follow the scientific discoveries in real time and participate in the research — will set a new standard for museums.”
It is anticipated that the Dueling Dinosaurs and SECU DinoLab will become a “must-see” icon at what is already the state’s most-visited attraction. Construction is slated to begin in 2021.
“The Dueling Dinosaurs project features history that has been in the making for millions of years, and we are thrilled to be part of bringing it to the public here in North Carolina! SECU Foundation is very proud to support the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in its exciting mission to showcase the scientific research required to uncover the preserved remains of two of the world’s most famous dinosaur species. This is happening through the new exhibit and science laboratory — the SECU DinoLab,” said Jo Anne Sanford, SECU Foundation board chair. “The Foundation’s initial support for the Friends of the Museum came in 2009 with a multimillion-dollar grant for the iconic silver globe – the SECU Daily Planet, an innovative and educational multimedia program area that opened in 2012. Like the Daily Planet, the SECU DinoLab will provide exciting educational benefits as well as significant, positive economic impacts. Dueling Dinosaurs will be a new icon for our region and state and will undoubtedly expand interest in the field of paleontology for educators and students in North Carolina and beyond.”
The research team also has developed Cretaceous Creatures, a new public science project that will inspire the next generation of researchers by providing school children across North Carolina and beyond with the opportunity to make their own scientific discoveries. As part of the program, students will sort through Cretaceous sediment, discover and identify fossils from the Dueling Dinosaurs ecosystem, and send the data to Museum paleontologists to be included in ongoing research. This program was made possible by a donation from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
“We are proud to support the Dueling Dinosaurs and Cretaceous Creatures program because these initiatives are committed to education, economic mobility and exploration of science,” said Kari Stoltz, Bank of America market president for the Triangle. “We look forward to bringing together students, teachers and visitors – whether onsite or online – to uncover new information with us as they engage with these fossils.”
The fossils were acquired by the nonprofit organization Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences solely via private funds, and will be gifted to the Museum’s Vertebrate Paleontology Collection. The acquisition and one-of-a-kind experience is made possible thanks to generous support to the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences from the people of North Carolina, the SECU Foundation, an anonymous donor, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Duke Energy Foundation, North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, Wake County and City of Raleigh, The Jandy Ammons Foundation, Delta Dental of North Carolina, Maynard Family Foundation, the PNC Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, the Re Corr Family Foundation and others. Details of the acquisition are confidential.
About the Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
The Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose purpose is to support the Museum. The Friends accepts and manages earned and contributed revenues — including donations, gift shop sales, membership and events—that support Museum programs, research and exhibits. All Friends activities serve the broader goal of helping the Museum illuminate the natural world and inspire its conservation.
About North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh (11 and 121 W. Jones St.) is an active research institution that engages visitors of every age and stage of learning in the wonders of science and the natural world. In addition to two downtown buildings showcasing seven floors of world class exhibits, the Museum runs Prairie Ridge Ecostation, a 45-acre outdoor education and research facility in west Raleigh, as well as the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at Whiteville, our satellite facility in southeastern N.C. Our mission is “to illuminate the natural world and inspire its conservation.” Downtown Raleigh Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. General admission is free, but timed-entry tickets are required. For more information or to reserve tickets, visit www.naturalsciences.org.