'All Hell Broke Loose': Paleontologist Recalls Scotty The T. Rex Discovery 25 Years Ago

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

'Scotty' the T-rex was discovered near Eastend, Sask., in 1991, but its full remains only began to be excavated in 1994. This weekend, Scotty celebrated the 25th anniversary of that excavation. (Royal Saskatchewan Museum)

T. rex Discovery Centre was then established in Eastend, Sask.

Twenty-five years ago, a discovery heralded the beginning of a new and exciting time in paleontology in Saskatchewan, with the excavation of the fossil remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex.

"It changed [my life] entirely," said Tim Tokaryk, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum's T. rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, Sask. 

This weekend, Tokaryk and others joined in a 25th anniversary celebration for Scotty the T. rex, named in honour of the scotch that was poured to mark his discovery. 

It was a finding that took a few years to fall into place. 

Scotty's first remains were found in 1991, with just a few pieces of bones that suggested the remains of a T. rex could be located nearby, said Tokaryk.

At that time, Tokaryk was part of a two-person team of scientists working at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. He said the real "Eureka!" moment came three years later. 

At that point, he was excavating again in the area when he found the dinosaur's jaw with the teeth still inside. Given the teeth hadn't popped out, it was a good indication that there was something trapping both the teeth and the rest of the body at the site, he said. 

"That was the moment, spring of 1994, that's when all hell broke loose with the discovery," he told CBC's Saskatchewan Weekend

"I just sort of ran around the hills for about five minutes screaming, trying to figure out, 'OK how we going to get this multi-ton animal out of here?'"

The finding would lead to the establishment of the T. rex Discovery Centre, with Tokaryk moving out to head up the centre.

It also brought Saskatchewan to the forefront of paleontology with its discovery of the marquis animal that is the T. rex, he said.

"About 60 percent of our fossil resources in Saskatchewan is in the southwest corner. I can drive an hour's drive distance around the town and discover 75 million years of history," said Tokaryk. 

The T. rex discovery was a "signpost," one that shows the possibility of unlocking many more fossil secrets in the province, Tokaryk added. 

"So there's still a lot of potential for finding new stuff and Scotty's kickstarting us in that new direction." 

Source: www.cbc.ca