One-of-a-kind Dinosaur

Torvosaurus joins group of extremely rare dinosaurs
in a new permanent exhibit at Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center’s Dinosaur Hall is at the Museum of Natural History & Science. It features a dinosaur that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world: a 30-foot-long Torvosaurus.

The Torvosaurus was a giant carnivorous dinosaur that stalked the Late Jurassic, 153 to 148 million years ago. It bears some resemblance to its much younger cousin Tyrannosaurus, though it predates it by over 80 million years. Both were bipedal predators but the Torvosaurus has more robust arms with three large claws and a longer, narrower skull. And though it’s smaller, the Torvosaurus boasted teeth nearly nine inches long. It was the apex predator of the Late Jurassic, sitting atop the food chain, stalking its massive herbivore neighbors.

CMC’s Torvosaurus is the only one of its kind in the world. Previous specimens were only known through isolated bones but CMC’s is what paleontologists call fully associated, meaning it was found largely intact. It’s 55% complete and contains bones never found before, many bones joined together in their natural position. That rarity makes it especially important to paleontologists and researches hoping to better understand the dinosaur’s anatomy and evolutionary history.

“This skeleton has the ability to tell us a lot about the anatomy of the dinosaur and to understand the evolution of this unique group of dinosaurs,” says Glenn Storrs, PhD, associate vice president of science and research and Withrow Farny Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at Cincinnati Museum Center. “To put a Torvosaurus in our museum is very exciting to me, to dinosaur enthusiasts and to scientists from around the world.”

For those amateur and professional paleontologists who share Dr. Storrs’s excitement, they’ll have to travel to Cincinnati to conduct their research.

“Fossils tell the story of our planet’s history, a history that is relevant to us all as part of our natural heritage,” says P. David Polly, PhD, president of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. “In the new exhibits, guests will be able to enjoy the same fossils that scientists study, from the huge Torvosaurusskeleton to small animals and plants that lived alongside it.”

That such a rare dinosaur is in Cincinnati is a case of luck and remembering one’s roots.

Jason Cooper, a fossil enthusiast who has spent years digging for fossils out west, discovered the Torvosaurus skeleton in 2013 in Dinosaur, Colorado. Cooper’s family owned the land where the dinosaur was discovered, haphazardly, while digging a road to another dig site. Being a native of Cincinnati, he had a desire to see it at a museum and an institution he grew up with.

“This has always been a dream of me and my family to get something like this back to Cincinnati,” says Cooper. “That’s where we came from and Cincinnati Museum Center has developed into this national dinosaur treasure museum.”

The Torvosaurus joined five other dinosaurs in the Dinosaur Hall: a 25-foot Allosaurus that was previously on display, the 60-foot-long Galeamopus that made its first public appearance at Rhinegeist Brewery and three additional dinosaurs.

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