Berkeley’s specimen, affectionately named Osborn, is about 90% complete.
The Cretaceous period’s most famous predator is just across the bay at UC Berkeley in the Valley Life Sciences Building. It has proudly stood on the building’s ground floor since 1995, when a team of professors, sculptors, and undergraduate researchers carefully constructed it piece by piece.
According to the University of California Museum of Paleontology, rancher Kathy Wankel discovered the T. rex skeleton in 1988 on the shores of Fort Peck Lake in Montana.
[Image: @derekderoche via Instagram]
Tyrannosaurus rex existed between 65 and 85 million years ago, so it’s very difficult to find a fossil that’s not missing a large amount of bones. The 15-20 other skeletons around the country range from 10-80% complete, but UC Berkeley’s T. rex specimen is about 90% complete, only missing a few bones from the tail.
Matt Smith of Livingston, Montana created casts of the fossils, which were then shipped to the university in a 12-foot wooden crate. The UC Berkeley research team painstakingly washed, painted, cut, drilled and mounted them to create the skeleton, which stands at about 15 feet tall and 40 feet long. The original fossils are still in Montana at the Museum of the Rockies.
[Image: @mistahmoogle via Instagram]
The university team consulted with expert sculptors from Industrial Light and Magic to achieve its active pose, and it’s supported by a steel armature in the event of an earthquake.
The Valley Life Science Building’s Wallace Atrium is also home to several other dinosaur friends. High above Osborn the T. rex is Wallace, a large Pteranodon with a 22-foot wingspan. You’ll also find several other models displayed, including a Triceratops skull on the second landing of the spiral stairwell.
[Image: @livecolorfulco via Instagram]
The enormous Valley Life Sciences Building is dedicated to the biological sciences, and is home to university departments including integrative biology; environmental science, policy, and management; molecular and cell biology; the bioscience and natural resources library, the museum of paleontology, the museum of vertebrate zoology, and 47 research labs.
If you find yourself on UC Berkeley’s campus, be sure to stop by the Valley Life Sciences Building to see Osborn the T. rex for yourself. At the moment, the building is still listed as “temporarily closed” on Google due to Covid, but there’s a good chance it’ll open back up to the public when the school year starts in August.
Featured Image: John Martinez Pavliga via Flickr