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Bare-bones dinosaur mystery at L.A. County's Natural History Museum

Bare-bones dinosaur mystery at L.A. County's Natural
History Museum

By Diane Haithman, 
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 
March 31, 2008 

TV viewers seem addicted to the popular forensic
dramas "CSI: Miami," "CSI: NY" and "CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation." But those shows are nothing like the
new procedural that is unfolding for visitors to the
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, where
the case dates back 66 million years.

Call this show "CSI: Carter County," after the Montana
badlands where the "victim" was discovered -- a
teenage Tyrannosaurus rex called Thomas, stumbled upon
by teacher and amateur fossil enthusiast Robert Curry,
who named it after his brother, a fellow fossil fan. 

For the next 18 months, visitors will be able to watch
the experts at work trying to solve the mysteries of
the dinosaur's life and death in the museum's new
Thomas the T. rex Lab, a "paleo-odyssey."

Since 2003, a team of researchers led by Luis Chiappe,
director of the museum's Dinosaur Institute, has been
excavating the government-owned site in Montana and
bringing back chunks of earth containing the bones of
Thomas, who, with 70% of his skeleton unearthed, ranks
among the most complete T. rexes in the world. The
most complete -- 90% -- is Sue, housed at Chicago's
Field Museum.

At the Natural History Museum, the team will go
through the complex and painstaking task of readying
the fossilized bones for assembly and mounting as
centerpiece in the renovated dinosaur galleries,
scheduled to reopen in 2011. The renovation is part of
an ongoing $84-million restoration of the historic
1913 museum building, which will begin reopening its
galleries in 2010. 

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