A new study published in The Anatomical Record reports that the remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex found in Saskatchewan now holds an impressive new title. The dinosaur, nicknamed “Scotty,” has been announced as the “oldest and largest known fully terrestrial carnivore,” according to the study’s leader, Scott Persons, a palaeontologist with the University of Alberta.
Originally discovered in 1991 by Robert Gebhardt, a high school teacher from nearby Eastend, Sask., in the southwest corner of the province, Scotty had started off as a small piece of a tooth and a vertebra from a tail. After Gebhardt reported his find to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, the process of excavating and extracting Scotty began, and now its skeleton is about 65 per cent complete.
Scotty was nicknamed after a bottle of Scotch that was shared by the field crew present during its initial discovery, and just like the liquor, Scotty’s value lies within its age. In order to determine that age, palaeontologists studied the growth patterns found on its bones and were able to estimate that the dinosaur had died in its thirties—about 65 million years ago.
Unlike its friendly nickname, this dinosaur suggests anything but. According to Persons, Scotty would have weighed more than eight tons, with a length that surpasses 12 metres. Researchers were able to estimate Scotty’s weight by the measurements of its skull, limbs, and hip, and these findings concluded that its estimated body mass exceeded all other known T. rex specimens. To help visualize Scotty’s size, its estimated weight of 19,555 pounds makes it significantly heavier than an African elephant, which can achieve a weight of up to 14,000 pounds. Scotty’s assumed mass and length, combined with its estimated age of 30 years, has allowed it to surpass “Sue,” a T. rex found in South Dakota which had been previously considered as the largest T. rex skeleton ever found.
While Scotty is perhaps the greatest paleontological discovery to have come out of the Frenchman River Valley area, there have also been many other significant findings as well. Persons describes this part of Saskatchewan as a “fantastic place to go dinosaur hunting. Not a lot of people have gone before, and there have been really cool discoveries that are coming up from that area.” Other findings from this area include many plant fossils, shell fossils from prehistoric snails, as well as a finger bone from a large “ostrich-mimic” dinosaur called Struthiomimus.
The T. rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, part of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, will have an updated cast of Scotty on display that reflects the scientists’ new discoveries and will be open from May 18th until Labour Day.