At a press conference Wednesday, Casper College announced the discovery of the fossilized remains of Tyrannosaurus rex.

The find is one of only about 50 T. rex ever found, and has the potential to be among the most complete. Preliminary plans call for the fossils, and perhaps a fully mounted skeleton, to be on display in the Tate Geological Museum after excavation.

President Walter Nolte said the discovery was made by J.P. Cavigelli, field operations specialist for the College’s Tate Geological Museum.

“Five years ago I found a series of beat up articulated dinosaur vertebrae eroding out of a very hard rock on a ranch in eastern Wyoming. This past summer I decided to expose the rock and see what might be there in addition to the vertebrae on the surface. The plan was to expose the rock, find out how big it was and see if it held any more clues to its contents,” said Cavigelli.

Cavigelli and four other individuals spent three days near Lusk, Wyo., digging around a big rock measuring 18 feet long and 8.3 feet wide. They uncovered a large assortment of fossilized bones including chevrons, (a series of bones on the underside of the tail of reptiles), pelvis bones, vertebrae, and ribs, including two that were near the T. rex’s neck. “Because we found those rib bones, we are hopeful that we may be able to find the skull,” noted Cavigelli.

Cavigelli also believes that there is a possibility, because some of the T. rex’s remains are locked up in the large rock, that skin impressions may be found. “Finding skin impressions would be a huge find and would put the Tate on the map,” he said.

The T. rex has been named “Lee Rex” after the owner of the land on which the bones were found. The T. rex lived during the late Cretaceous period around 65 to 67 million years ago, and is a rare find. T. rex bones have been found only in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and possibly North Dakota. According to Cavigelli only about 50 T. rex have been found, with only five coming from Wyoming. “Of those 50 only about 15 are fairly complete. I hope that this discovery will be the best T. rex from Wyoming,” Cavigelli said.

Excavation of the T. rex is scheduled to begin on June 13, 2011. Support for initial project expenses was provided by Nerd Gas Company, LLC and Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, LLC. In addition the Tate Geological Museum will fund the dig through grants, its operating budget, and fundraisers.

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