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The Wankel T.rex is prepared for exhibit in its original “death pose” at Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Mont., 2005. The Wankel T.rex died in a riverbed more than 65 million years ago and was discovered by Kathy Wankel, a Montana rancher, near the Fort Peck Reservoir in Eastern Montana in 1988.

The Wankel T.rex is prepared for exhibit in its original “death pose” at Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Mont., 2005. The Wankel T.rex died in a riverbed more than 65 million years ago and was discovered by Kathy Wankel, a Montana rancher, near the Fort Peck Reservoir in Eastern Montana in 1988. (Photo by Museum of the Rockies)

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Jack Horner, Curator of Paleontology at Museum of the Rockies, provides scale for Tyrannosaurus rex fossils at excavation site near the Fort Peck Reservoir, Fort Peck, Mont., June 1990. Named for its discoverer, Kathy Wankel, the Wankel T.rex is estimated to have weighed six to seven tons.

Jack Horner, Curator of Paleontology at Museum of the Rockies, provides scale for Tyrannosaurus rex fossils at excavation site near the Fort Peck Reservoir, Fort Peck, Mont., June 1990. Named for its discoverer, Kathy Wankel, the Wankel T.rex is estimated to have weighed six to seven tons. (Photo by Museum of the Rockies)

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Posted 4/10/2014

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By Eileen Williamson
Omaha District


OMAHA, Neb. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District’s Wankel Tyrannosaurus Rex will soon travel from Montana, where it has resided for the past 66 million years, to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, Mont., home to the T.rex since it was excavated in 1993, will host a free, public sendoff April 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Prior to its departure, Omaha District and USACE Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections, St. Louis, employees will perform a detailed inventory, a conservation assessment, and oversee crating of the fossil for its journey to Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is planning a number of events, beginning April 15, to welcome the T. rex to the Nation’s Capital.

Kathy and Tom Wankel discovered the T.rex fossil, one of the most complete ever found, in 1988 while fishing near the Nelson Creek Recreation Area at Fort Peck Reservoir, Mont. Fort Peck Reservoir is managed by Omaha District. The Wankel T.rex is also the first discovered with a complete arm.

The excavation, led by Montana paleontologist Jack Horner, took place from 1989 to 1990. At that time, USACE and the Museum of the Rockies signed a memorandum of understanding for the museum to provide long-term care and management of the specimen. "We are honored that the Wankel T.rex will be representing Montana at our national museum," said Dr. Waded Cruzado, President of Montana State University. "This is such an important paleontological find, and all of us are very proud to see it displayed for the Nation and the world."

In June 2013, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Northwestern Division agreed to loan the Wankel T.rex, one of two owned by the Army, to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History for 50 years. The fossil will be a centerpiece of the Museum’s new paleobiology hall, scheduled to open in 2019.

“This agreement begins a long-standing partnership between the Corps of Engineers and the Smithsonian Institution that leverages the Institution's ability to showcase the Corps' and Montana's strong commitment to national heritage stewardship at the state and national levels," said former Division Commander Brig. Gen. Anthony C. Funkhouser at the loan agreement signing.

"We are happy to enter into this significant partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and to display this amazing fossil to the millions of people who visit the National Museum of Natural History each year," said Dr. Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Museum,

USACE manages 12 million acres of public lands and waters nationwide meaning that discoveries such as the Wankel T.rex are Federally protected.

“It’s one of the important USACE roles that is often unnoticed,” said Omaha District Cultural Resources Program Chief, Julie Price. “Our goal is to protect these items, curate them for future generations and respect the history or cultures that brought them here in the first place.”

Since 1906, Congress has passed numerous laws and regulations that recognize the importance of preserving and showcasing our Nation's heritage and paleontological resources for the benefit of the American public. These laws and regulations identify nonrenewable heritage resources as significant components of our nation's history and require that they be preserved for the education and use for future generations. USACE is proud to participate in the effort to protect and preserve the Nation's paleontological resources by maintaining state-of-the-art expertise in natural resource and heritage assets stewardship in support of U.S. government agencies.

USACE's Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections, in the St. Louis District—one of the largest single organizations in the Department of Defense dedicated to addressing heritage assets—has assisted with the loan document and curatorial issues associated with this very important paleontological treasure.

Be sure to follow the Wankel T.rex's journey through our social media outlets at #trexroadtrip

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