Team members from Everything Dinosaur were lucky enough to get a preview of the new “Titus T. rex is King” exhibition at Wollaton Hall (Nottinghamshire), the first time that actual Tyrannosaurus rex fossils have been exhibited in England for more than a century.

Titus the T.rex exhibit
The spectacular Titus the T. rex exhibit at Wollaton Hall.

The exhibition entitled “Titus: T. rex is King” opens on Sunday 4th July 2021 and will run until August 2022, giving visitors the opportunity to view a real Tyrannosaurus rex specimen, the actual fossilised bones and teeth of arguably, the most famous dinosaur of all. The stunning T. rex mount has been created by talented conservator Nigel Larkin who has over 30 years’ experience of conservation and curation. His expertise in skeletal reconstruction enabled this Late Cretaceous apex predator to be exhibited, the actual fossil bones of a T. rex combined with casts from a second specimen and then skilfully painted and mounted to provide a stunning display.

Nigel Larkin next to the Titus T. rex specimen
Conservator Nigel Larkin who was tasked with creating the Titus the T. rex specimen combining the actual T. rex fossil bones with casts from “Stan” the T. rex specimen STAN-BHI3033.

A Titan from the Hell Creek Formation

This T. rex specimen comes from Montana (Hell Creek Formation). In September 2014 palaeontologist Craig Pfister found a handful of fragmentary T. rex bones. Working in the extremely harsh conditions of the “Badlands”, Craig was able to recover around 20% of the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Skilled conservator Nigel Larkin was given the task of combining these real fossil bones with casts from another similar sized T. rex specimen to create this spectacular display which is over 12 metres in length.

When entering the room in which this dinosaur is exhibited, visitors immediately get a sense of just how big and powerful this dinosaur was. The jaws of this huge predator loom over you as if you are about to become a snack for this formidable monster. Nigel Larkin was able to utilise his three decades of experience of working with dinosaur fossils to design and build the metal armature that enables Titus to be shown in such a dynamic pose.

Titus the T. rex Skull and Jaws
The skull of the T. rex exhibit on display at Wollaton Hall until August 2022.

Interactive Virtual Media Displays

Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the life and habitat of Tyrannosaurus rex using digital and interactive virtual media displays that tell the tale of the dinosaur’s discovery, the excavation work, the painstaking and time-consuming process of piecing together the life story of an enormous predator.

Team members at Everything Dinosaur were fortunate to meet Simon Wallett of Hot Knife Digital Media, who was responsible for creating the interactive digital displays. Those lucky enough to get tickets for the exhibition will be able to excavate key bones from the dig site, identify where they fit on the skeleton and to discover some of the secrets that the bones reveal. In addition, visitors will be able to reconstruct their own Tyrannosaurus rex decide whether to add feathers or scales and to transport their digital creation back to a Cretaceous landscape.

Remarkably, all the displays designed by Hot Knife Digital Media operate without the need to be touched. Clever software interprets the movements of your fingers enabling you to try your hand at palaeontology without the need to touch anything. A very smart solution, permitting participation at an event where COVID-19 safety precautions are meticulously complied with.

Simon Wallett of Hot Knife Digital Media.
Simon Wallett of Hot Knife Digital Media demonstrates one of the clever interactive displays. The innovative design of these machines enables visitors to operate them without the need to actually touch them. It’s a tactile, immersive experience without the need to touch!

Telling the Tale of a Tyrant

Prominent and informative display panels help visitors to understand what these fossilised bones of T. rex have revealed. They help to tell the tale of a tyrant that had a tough life. For example, disease identified in a toe bone represents the first time this specific pathology has been found in a dinosaur.

A deep puncture in the underside of a bone in the tail, suggests that Titus battled other tyrannosaurs. The wound in the tail shows signs of healing, so this traumatic injury is unlikely to have been the cause of this titan’s ultimate demise.

Damaged tail bone of a T. rex
The single tail bone of the T. rex showing the deep puncture mark which was probably inflicted during intraspecific combat (a fight with another T. rex).

Sue Judd from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“Visitors to the Titus T. rex is King exhibition will be able to view real Tyrannosaurus rex fossils, the first time in more than a century fossils like these have been on display in England. We are sure this magnificent dinosaur will feel very much at home at the majestic Wollaton Hall. This wonderful building surrounded by fantastic parkland houses an amazing natural history collection – a fitting home for the king of the tyrant lizards.”

Wollaton Hall in Nottinghamshire
The majestic Wollaton Hall, home to real T. rex fossils until August 2022.

For further information and tickets for the “Titus T. rex is King” exhibition can be found here: Wollaton Hall – Titus T. rex is King.

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