Kids Discover Rare ‘Teen Rex’ Fossil in North Dakota Badlands

[w_lemay, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

After years of hiking along dinosaur trails, 10-year-old aspiring paleontologist Jessin Fisher, his 7-year-old brother Liam Fisher, and their 9-year-old cousin Kaiden Madsen stumbled upon a trail of bones—fragments of the prehistoric remains had washed downhill by the rain.

Liam and his father, Sam Fisher, then discovered a long, gray-white piece and immediately understood what they were looking at.

A dinosaur.

A rare fossil of an adolescent Tyrannosaurus rex has been excavated in North Dakota’s badlands – a find noteworthy for the scientific insight it may offer into the life history of this famous dinosaur and for the tale of the kids who found it.

The discovery of the fossil, nicknamed “Teen Rex,” was announced on Tuesday by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where it will be studied and displayed, writes Reuters.

In July 2022, brothers Liam and Jessin Fisher, 7 and 10 at the time, and their cousin, Kaiden Madsen, who was 9, were hiking and looking for fossils with Sam Fisher, father of Liam and Jessin, on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about 10 miles (16 km) from the town of Marmarth in southwestern North Dakota. Liam and his father noticed a large leg bone sticking out of the ground.

“My dad hollered for Jessin and Kaiden to come, and they came running,” said Liam, now 9. “And dad asked, ‘What is this?’ And Jessin said, ‘That’s a dinosaur.'”

“I didn’t know what type,” said Jessin, now 12.

Once the remains were found, reported USA Today, “Sam Fisher called Tyler Lyson, his former high school classmate and the museum’s curator of paleontology. Lyson returned to the site with the boys and his team of paleontologists in summer 2023 to excavate the fossil, according to the museum. It took a year to retrieve the fossil because Lyson had to get an excavation permit from the land’s manager.

“By going outside and embracing their passions and the thrill of discovery, these boys have made an incredible dinosaur discovery that advances science and deepens our understanding of the natural world,” Lyson said in the release. “I’m excited for Museum guests to dig into the ‘Teen Rex Discovery’ experience.” 

Lyson and his group of paleontologists were able to determine the fossil belonged to a juvenile T. rex by analyzing the bone structure, growth patterns and bone histology, among other techniques, to come up with the age of the dinosaur at the time of its death, the museum announced.

The paleontologists believe the “Teen Rex” weighed 3,500 pounds, stood 10 feet tall and was 25 feet long at the time of its death, according to a museum Q&A page. The exact weight of the fossil will be determined through ongoing research and analysis.”

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