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Exchange-Museum Dinosaur

A Daspletosaurus Torosus replica is shown at The Durham Museum in Omaha.

OMAHA — The Tyrannosaurus rex is enshrined in pop culture, and natural history, as one of the most fearsome beasts to ever walk the earth.

So it's no small thing to say you've seen the most terrifying member of the most terrifying species.

The Durham Museum opened its newest exhibit, "Tyrannosaurs: Meet the Family," which explores the unique T. rex characteristics and showcases the dinosaurs' newly revised family tree. The centerpiece of the exhibit is "Scotty," a replica skeleton of a beast scientists are calling the largest T. rex ever discovered.

"Now, seeing the cast in place, I think it's astonishing to see that something that large once roamed freely around the Earth," said Jessica Brummer, spokeswoman for the Durham.

The fossilized Scotty skeleton, named after the celebratory scotch paleontologists drank after finding the bones, was first discovered in Saskatchewan, Canada, in the 1990s. Earlier this year, in a paper published in The Anatomical Record, scientists declared the dinosaur had a higher body mass than all other known T. rex specimens.

The living animal weighed an estimated 19,555 pounds, far heavier than today's male African elephants, which top the scale at about 14,000 pounds, according to the New York Times. The dinosaur lived during the Cretaceous Period, about 65 million years ago.

Scotty is also the longest-lived T. rex specimen ever found: The animal that left the fossils died when it was about 30, enduring injuries and illness. Evidence of an infected jaw, broken ribs and bite marks were all found on the skeleton.

The dinosaur was so massive that Durham staff couldn't exhibit the replica skeleton in the usual gallery space, Brummer said. The bones, which are articulated in a crouched position and measure about 15 feet tall, are on display in an area that's usually used as a staging room.

"That area has really tall ceilings, so he sits in kind of his own space in that room, because he's so stinking big," Brummer said.

In addition to the Scotty display, the museum exhibit includes more than 10 life-sized dinosaur specimens, hands-on games and multimedia experiences, including one that features dinosaurs running through the streets of Omaha.

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