This week’s What’s on the van? is co-written by Andre Ashington, of the Museum’s geological collections, and year 10 work experience student Helen Tyzack.
Stan is a male Tyrannosaurus rex , from the late Cretaceous of South Dakota, U.S.A. He measures 12 metres in length, and is approximately 4 metres high at the hips. He is estimated to have weighed approximately 7 tonnes.
Tyrannosaurus rex is famous, or should that be infamous, for its relatively short arms, which are often viewed as being of no use, but recent research suggests that this was not the case. Two popular theories are that the arms may have aided male tyrannosaurs during mating. Alternatively, they could have been used to lever the dinosaur into an upright position after sleep. Sadly, neither of these suggestions has been proven, but we can be sure that he could definitely have beaten you in an arm wrestle!
Stan would originally have hatched out of an egg and been cared for by his parents, in a similar way to some modern carnivores, until old enough to fend for himself. He would have hunted many herbivorous dinosaurs such as Pachycephalosaurus, Triceratops and Edmontosaurus, who shared his environment. He would also have preyed upon the smaller carnivorous dinosaur, Struthiomimus. Stan still enjoys the company of the fossil remains of these dinosaurs, which are also on display in the Museum.
During his life Stan acquired many injuries. These included several broken ribs, a broken neck, injuries to his cheeks and a bite wound on the back of his skull. Many of these were probably inflicted by other tyrannosaurs. However, Stan was obviously a tough customer and all of these injuries appear to have healed.
Stan clearly lived a very colourful life, which came to an end on a sandbank, near a stream and not far from the sea. He may well have died of old age.