The Montana Dueling Dinosaurs:
An Historic Dinosaur Discovery
Chasmosaurine ceratopsian (undescribed species)
Hell Creek Formation, Garfield County, Montana
In 2006, a discovery was made in Garfield County, Montana representing one of the most important finds since humans first began uncovering dinosaur bones. Two specimens the most complete dinosaur skeletons ever found in the Hell Creek Formation were uncovered. Astoundingly, they were also fully articulated. Adding further significance, they were presented in such a manner as to suggest that they died while locked in mortal combat.
The Montana Dueling Dinosaurs comprise a theropod, thought to be a Nanotyrannus lancensis (a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex), and a large Chasmosaurine ceratopsian of undescribed species. This is one of only two known occurrences where a theropod (meat-eating dinosaur) and
its ornithischian (herbivorous dinosaur) prey are preserved together.
Two points make The Montana Dueling Dinosaurs particularly important in terms of taxonomic understanding of dinosaur species: (1) The ceratopsian may represent a new and undescribed species (the uniqueness of its skull and pelvis appears to differentiate it from Triceratops), and (2)
The controversy surrounding the genus, Nanotyrannus may be put
to rest with further study of the theropod. Previously, researchers have contended that Nanotyrannus was simply a juvenile version of T. rex. The lack of theropod skeletons available for study has effectively stalled this debate; this remarkable specimen has the potential to end it.
One of the most valuable features of The Montana Dueling Dinosaurs is the presentation of the dinosaur specimens in preserved taphonomy. The specimens were removed from the ground in large, plaster-jacketed sections of earth, preserving the spatial relationships in which the bones were found within each block. This provides, quite literally, fertile ground for scientific study of the individuals, the relationship between the two species, and life during the Cretaceous Age. Because the dinosaurs are also articulated, scientists will be able to learn about the anatomy and physiology of both theropods and ceratopsians. Also of importance is the presence of a leaf horizon directly beneath the two skeletons.
The excavation site will be made available for scientific study to better understand the series of events that led to this unique preservation.
The theory that the two individuals were responsible for each other's deaths is evidenced by several factors: (1) the presence of Nanotyrannus teeth within the carcass of the ceratopsian, (2) the obvious lateral crushing of the Nanotyrannus skull and, (3) the fact that the tail of the meat eater lies directly under and in contact with the rear foot of the herbivore. At this time, scientists theorize that predator and prey are presented together in the final death pose of each.
Both dinosaur specimens of The Montana Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit preserved soft tissue, including skin an extremely rare attribute. Although the texture of the skin on the Nanotyrannus appears very fine and difficult to discern, a skin envelope is clearly preserved. The coarser texture of the ceratopsian skin is clearly visible, even on the frill. In addition, these specimens provide an opportunity to explore for stomach contents.
The paleontological revelations that lie within The Montana Dueling Dinosaurs have yet to be fully uncovered. An awe- inspiring piece, The Montana Dueling Dinosaurs are an historic discovery and a magnificent treasure.
- Please contact the Operations Department at 212-644-9113 for special instructions regarding the collection of this lot.