We can happily call the mystery of the missing Tyrannosaurus solved! The T. rex fossil known as Stan sold at auction in 2020 for a record-breaking $31.8 million. But the buyer remained anonymous. And so scientists worried the dinosaur would end up in a private collection… Never to be seen or studied again. Now, as National Geographic reports, we have learned that the Natural History Museum in Abu Dhabi will display Stan the T. rex.
Stan is one of the most complete T. rex fossils ever found. Casts of the nearly 200 bones (out of the 350 total T. rex had) live in museums around the world but researchers also need access to the actual fossils. Stan also has the most complete skull of any T. rex ever found. Scientists determined the bite force of a T. rex using Stan’s skull. The skeleton measures 40 feet long and 13 feet high at the hip. This dinosaur fossil makes up one of about 50 specimens known to science. Stan may actually belong to a new species called Tyrannosaurus regina, according to a recent study.
Stan’s namesake is Stan Sacrison. Sacrison, an amateur paleontologist, discovered the skeleton in 1987. Believing it to be a Triceratops, Sacrison didn’t dig up the bones. In 1992, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research visited the site. They determined the dinosaur was actually a T. rex and excavated the fossil. A legal ruling forced them to sell Stan after decades on display at the institute in South Dakota.
Speculation began that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was Stan’s new owner after an NFL broadcast in January. Johnson had Stan’s skull on display and shared some fun facts with Peyton and Eli Manning on live TV. But Johnson only had a replica of this dinosaur. This encouraged National Geographic to track down the real Stan, though. Customs records showed a 5.6 ton shipment from New York to the United Arab Emirates valued at the exact amount Stan sold for at auction. Whether the museum owns Stan or has him on loan from a private collection remains unknown.
The Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi opens in 2025 in the Saadiyat district. It will house campuses of New York University, the Louvre, and the Guggenheim Museum. Stan will undoubtedly excite dinosaur lovers young and old once back on display. And scientists too, of course.
Featured Image: Christie’s