Find out when you can see a Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex in Raleigh this year
Dinosaurs are coming to downtown Raleigh this year.
And hundreds of thousands more visitors are expected to be coming soon to one particular building in downtown Raleigh: the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Before the end of the year, Dueling Dinosaurs is scheduled to open.
The exhibit will feature a Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex. The two dinosaurs died 67 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous, according to the museum, on a subtropical coastal plain in present-day Montana.
They were buried side by side and were completely fossilized. Those fossils are in storage, awaiting the completion of the exhibit.
The T. rex in Dueling Dinosaurs is thought to be the only complete skeleton in the world.
Near the museum’s Jones Street entrance, passers-by may have noticed the construction going on outside and the closed sidewalk. The work being done there will create the new Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit and a revamped DinoLab. And they could be open by early December.
The entrance between the giant Earth globe and the Daily Planet Cafe will be more than just doors. It will be a literal window into the work of paleontologists.
Interior construction is about finished, and the dinosaurs now in storage will be moved into the exhibit slated to open in late fall.
Not a ‘typical dinosaur arrangement’
“It will be amazing for two reasons,” said Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson.
“Number one, nowhere else in the world will you have two intact dinosaurs together, where they were found on what is now a Montana hillside,” Wilson said.
The other reason, he said, is that visitors will be able to talk to paleontologists as they continue their work to uncover the two dinosaurs.
“It’s not going to look like a typical dinosaur arrangement,” he said. “These are still in the rock.”
The fossils are in what’s called a “jacket,” a covering of plaster around each segment.
Museum spokesperson Jonathan Pishney said that the typical museum dinosaur fossil is about 50% original with the rest a replica. But the T. rex fossil is completely real, and much of the Triceratops, too.
A pedestrian ramp is being installed now that will take exterior visitors up close to where work will be underway on dinosaur fossils.
Kevin Brice, the museum project manager, said construction challenges includes retrofitting a building not designed to hold such heavy objects. The total weight of Dueling Dinosaurs is 20,000 pounds, he said. So the project added steel to increase the load-bearing capacity of the building.
“I think this will become a really dramatic streetscape,” Brice said.
The DinoLab on the second floor of the museum will be moved to the first floor, making the space not just easier for visitors to interact with, but also able to have large fossils loaded through the street entrance. Previously, fossil size was limited by what could fit in the elevators, museum officials said.
The fossils of the Dueling Dinosaurs that visitors can see being worked on will start with the skulls of the Triceratops and T. rex, followed by the body blocks.
Eric Lund, the paleontology lab manager, said that the new exhibit and DinoLab will extend transparency in their work by removing a barrier to visitors.
“It’s very spectacular, very special we were able to get them,” Lund said.
The museum expects 300,000 more visitors a year once it opens, in addition to the 1 million average visitors yearly that it gets now.