BILLINGS – The skeleton of what is believed to be a young Tyrannosaurus rex has been unearthed at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana.
Researchers and students at the University of Kansas recovered the fossilized remains, which they estimate are about 66.5 million years old.
The skeleton is considered to be one of the most preserved and complete ever found. According to the university, only a handful of young T-rex remains have ever been uncovered.
The specimen includes a complete section of the dinosaurs upper jaw, including all of its teeth, as well as parts of the skull, feet, hips and backbones.
“What’s fantastic about the specimen is every tooth position is filled,” said David Burnham, preparator of vertebrate paleontology at the KU Biodiversity Institute. “Not only filled by a functioning, working tooth, but also by replacement teeth.”
The History Channel called the discovery "1 in 100 million."
According to KU researchers, while they believe the specimen is that of a young T-rex, more testing must be done. The lack of specimens to compare to make identification more difficult and it can be unclear whether differences in skeleton structure are due to growth, or could be an indication of a different species.
In an article for University of Kansas, researchers said there is a possibility the specimen “represents another carnivorous dinosaur dubbed a Nanotyrannus that likewise was discovered in the Hell Creek Formation…the Nanotyrannus is a subject of controversy because it may represent a separate species, or it may be a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex.”
Tests are currently being done at a University of Kansas lab, and a full report is expected in the coming months.