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28 October 2014
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Stan the T. rex
Jaws: T. rex teeth on show

Stan the T. rex - facts

What do we know about Stan? What can we tell from his skeleton? How old is he? How big, how tall? How did he live? And was T. rex as bad as they say? Find out more about Manchester Museum's 'king of the terrible lizards!'


Factosaurs

  • Name: Stan
  • Species: Tyrannosaurus rex
  • Lived: upper Cretaceous, 65 million years ago
  • Found: Spring 1987
  • Location: nr Buffalo, South Dakota
  • Length: 12.2 m (40 ft)
  • Weight: 5.4 tonnes
  • Age: approx 20 yrs
  • Stride length: 18 ft

In the Spring of 1987, amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison was exploring outcrops near the town of Buffalo, South Dakota, when he came across a large pelvis weathering out of a sandy cliff face 100 feet above the prairie.

Preparing the left maxilla - or upper jawbone
What big teeth you have...

During that summer, Stan spent his free time attempting to uncover what was obviously the skeleton of a large dinosaur. Five years later, a team of skilled workers spent 30,000 hours using miniature sand blasters to take away the the matrix that encased Stan’s fragile bones.

What they eventually unearthed was the second most complete T. rex ever found (65% bone). Manchester Musuem now has a cast of this magnificent specimen.

Here are some facts about Stan, the T. rex:

  • Skeleton: 199 bones have been recovered, (70% of Stan's skeleton)
  • Skull: Stan’s is the best T. rex skull ever discovered, virtually complete and in pristine condition. Examination reveals hinge and slip joints in the skull that allowed Stan to open his jaw wide and increase his bite area – in the same way that a snake can swallow prey larger than its head (cranial kinesis).
  • Teeth: Stan had 58 teeth, each bearing tiny serrations to cut through flesh and shaped to break through bone. Unlike mammals, dinosaurs grew new teeth throughout their lifetimes
  • Jaws: lower jaws closed inside the upper, like giant shears, enabling a T. rex to bite through even the leg bone of another T. rex!
  • Behaviour: scientists believe that Stan lived his life in a family group. Hatching from an egg (like a modern bird), Stan would have been cared for by his parents, who taught him and his siblings to hunt.
    Eventually, Stan left the family group and found his own mate with whom he probably spent the rest of his life. Stan and his mate fought many battles - some with other T. rex!
  • Injuries: Several healed puncture wounds on Stan’s skull also suggest that T. rex fought each other. One serious injury left Stan with a broken neck - and probably horrible headaches! The most interesting wound is a hole at the back of Stan’s skull which is a perfect match for a tooth from the lower jaw of another T. rex. Stan lived to fight another day
  • Gender: Analysis of 30 T. rex skeletons found so far reveals two types: a robust type with a wider pelvis (female), and a smaller, gracile type with lighter bones (male). Stan’s skeleton is gracile so scientists believe he was male.
  • Habitat: Well preserved leaves and a few palm fronds found with Stan have given researchers new information about the environment and climate in which he lived. Other evidence reveals that Stan’s body probably remained exposed for a few months before a flood scattered some of his bones and buried his skeleton, entombing it for 65 million years.
  • Birds v dinosaurs: Scientists have long noted similarities, suggesting birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs. Stan’s feet are very bird-like and bones in his neck and body are thin-walled with a honeycomb structure – much like birds today.
last updated: 03/11/04
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