3 little fossil hunters discover the rare 67 million year old teenage T. rex

An unexpected discovery: fossils of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) were discovered by three school-aged children.

On July 31, 2022, three young fossil hunters – brothers Liam and Jessin Fisher, and their cousin Kaiden Madsen – made this extraordinary discovery during an informal walk. The trio spotted the fossils embedded in the rock formation of Hell Creek, North Dakota.

They soon sent a photo to a family friend and paleontologist, Dr. Tyler Lyson, to identify the skeletal remains. To their surprise, Lyson realized that they had seen a very rare juvenile T. rex.

The incredible find could change our understanding of one of the most fearsome predators to ever walk the earth.

Dr. Tyler Lyson and the trio of young fossil finders, Liam Fisher, Jessin Fisher and Kaiden Madsen. Rick Wicker/Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Liam, Jessin and Kaiden were 7, 10 and 9 years old respectively in 2022 when they came across this huge fossilized leg bone.

This young dinosaur, called Teen Rex, has been buried for about 67 million years.

Interestingly, the excavation process is now presented as a documentary, bringing Teen Rex to life with 3D animation. The documentary is narrated by Sir Sam Neill, who plays Dr. Alan Grant starred in the Jurassic Park films.

The excavation required considerable effort and it took more than 11 days to carefully recover the fossil remains. It was directed by Lyson, an associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the boys joined the dig team.

After recovery, the fossil was encased in giant plaster casings to protect the fossilized bones from breaking. The 5,000-pound block of fossils was flown to the Denver Museum by Black Hawk helicopter.

It was initially thought to be the remains of a common duck-billed dinosaur. However, careful high-tech research in a laboratory revealed a “very rare juvenile specimen” of the fearsome T.rex.

“This discovery is particularly exciting because the majority of Tyrannosaurus rex discoveries involve adults. Having fossils of a younger animal to study will shed light on aspects of dinosaur life, such as growth patterns,” Lyson explains.

“Furthermore, by embracing their passions and the thrill of discovery, three young scientists have made an incredible discovery of dinosaurs that will advance science, deepen our understanding of the natural world and inspire other explorers and future scientists,” he added . Interestingly enough, Lyson discovered his first dinosaur fossil in the same region at six o’clock.

Teen Rex fossil. (giant screen movies)

The rare specimen may shed light on T.rex’s growth years

This unique specimen consists of a tibia or shin bone measuring 82 centimeters in length. Bone size shows that Teen Rex was 13 to 15 years old at the time of death, about 67 million years ago.

The young T. rex probably weighed about 3,500 pounds (1,632 kg). He was about 25 feet long from his nose to the tip of his tail and about 10 feet tall. This suggests that the young was about two-thirds the size of a full-grown adult T. rex.

“It is remarkable to think how T. rex could have grown from a kitten-sized boy to the 40-foot, 7,000-pound adult predator we are familiar with,” said Dr. Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate paleontologist from the University of Maryland and renowned T. rex authority said in the press release.

He added: “Scientists can really only speculate about how ‘Teen rex’ lived and behaved, so discoveries like these have the potential to provide important new information about those earlier life stages when the fastest growth likely occurred.”

The fossilized bone will be on display at the Denver Museum’s “Teen Rex Prep Lab” in the coming weeks, and the film will premiere in Denver on June 21.

Further examination of the skeleton could reveal secrets about how the king of the dinosaurs got so big.


The Blueprint Daily

Stay up to date with news about engineering, technology, space travel and science with The Blueprint.


Mrigakshi Dixit Mrigakshi is a science journalist who enjoys writing about space exploration, biology and technological innovations. Her professional experience spans both television and digital media, allowing her to learn a variety of storytelling formats. Her work has been featured in well-known publications including Nature India, Supercluster and Astronomy magazine. If you have pitches in mind, don’t hesitate to send her an email.