Move over Monty, there’s a new raptor in town–and it hasn’t eaten in about 65 million years.
Stan the T. rex, a life-size replica of an actual Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton found in South Dakota in 1987, has taken up residence at Montgomery College’s Rockville Campus. And the move is permanent. The acquisition of the T. rex was made possible by a generous donation from Discovery Communications and facilitated by College faculty.
“I expect him to be displayed for many years. Enough for numerous generations of students and visitors to marvel at him,” says Dr. James Sniezek, instructional dean, chemical and biological sciences at the College. “He is museum quality.”
Found and excavated from the intensely studied Hell Creek Formation of North America by Stan Sacrison, the T. rex looms large – about 20 feet tall and 35 feet long – in the Science Center (SC) atrium.
According to Sniezek, SC was the only building on any Montgomery College campus with an atrium expansive enough to house it. Further, the College’s expert faculty teach just steps away from the new resident.
“The SC Building is perfect for the T.rex, and not just because of its size,” Sniezek says. “Several of our MC faculty members have science backgrounds in paleontology, geology, and early Earth chemistry.”
The T. rex lived in western North America at the end of the Late Cretaceous period, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It was one of the biggest and most feared carnivores of the era. This T. rex is one of the most complete skeletons ever unearthed, with 199 bones discovered at the site. Montgomery College is the only community college in the nation with a “Stan.”
The Tyrannosaurus rex is a great way to educate young minds in science… To truly understand how this creature lived, you need biology, physics, computer programming, chemistry, and math
Dr. Gina Wesley-Hunt, professor of biology at the College, has a background is paleontology and geology.
“The Tyrannosaurus rex is a great way to educate young minds in science,” she says. “To truly understand how this creature lived, you need biology, physics, computer programming, chemistry, and math.”
Dr. Wesley said, “A T. rex in our atrium is an impactful reminder of how life cannot be understood out of the context of the geological history of our planet, the chemistry of our planet, and the physics of our planet.”
“The specimen we have is a cast of a pretty tough individual. Our T. rex survived some extreme injuries, possibly during a fight with another T. rex,” Dr. Wesley says. “Those injuries remind us that this iconic skeleton represents an individual that lived their own unique life 66 million years ago.”
Dr. Wesley says MC faculty are excited to use the T. rex to show how disease and healing can leave indelible marks on our skeletons.
“By understanding how disease affects modern organisms,” she says, “we can better understand the life of extinct organisms. The T. rex reminds students of how an organism, its cells and tissues, can only be understood in the context of its ecosystem, and the history of the planet.”