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3 boys find rare juvenile T. Rex skeleton in North Dakota: Teen Rex

Three boys from North Dakota were on a family hike when they came across something many adventurous kids dream of finding: dinosaur bones.

The T. rex skeleton was discovered in 2022, when brothers Jessin and Liam Fisher, their father and cousin Kaiden Madsen, were hiking in the Badlands near Marmarth and looking for fossils, according to a Monday news release from the Denver Museum of Nature. & Science, which is expected to exhibit the skeleton this summer.

The boys, aged 10, 9 and 7 at the time of the discovery, told a news conference that they had been searching for fossils for years. This time, they were exploring the Hell Creek Formation, a 65.5 million-year-old rocky area known for its fossil formations, when they found large bones protruding from a rock.

Three teeth emerging from the sandstone.

Three teeth belonging to Teen Rex sticking out of the sandstone.

Dr. Tyler R. Lyson/Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Sam Fisher, Cession and Liam’s father, took photos of the bones and contacted a former high school classmate, Tyler Lyson, curator of paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, to identify them.

In the summer of 2023, fossil finders and Lyson returned to the site to excavate the skeleton, which was on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. About 30 percent of the skeleton was preserved, the museum said. The initial dig lasted 11 days, and paleontologists plan to return this summer to search for possible additional segments of the skeleton.

The museum said the discovery was significant because very few juvenile T. rex skeletons have ever been discovered.

Illustration of bones found (highlighted in blue) during the Teen Rex dig.  Museum scientists hope the skeleton will be further preserved.

Illustration of bones found (highlighted in blue) during the Teen Rex dig. Museum scientists hope the skeleton will be further preserved.

Scott Harman/Denver Museum of Nature and Science

“By going out and embracing their passions and the thrill of discovery, these boys made an incredible dinosaur discovery that advances science and deepens our understanding of the natural world,” Lyson said in a statement.

Teen Rex, as scientists call the fossil, would have stood 10 feet tall and 25 feet long and weighed about 3,500 pounds, according to the museum. In comparison, an adult T. rex could be 40 feet long and weigh up to 8,000 pounds.

The museum said the discovery of the Teen Rex gives scientists the opportunity to study the growth and development of the species as well as how the animals matured.

The fossil and a documentary chronicling the story are scheduled to be on temporary display at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science starting June 21.


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