UNITY — Ask any kid what a T. Rex is and they will be sure to describe a giant vicious creature that used to roam the Earth. Some may be familiar with this “character” from the Jurassic Park movies, or perhaps one of the Walking With Dinosaurs shows in Saskatoon.
The Royal Saskatchewan Museum brings their Scotty exhibit, the T. Rex found in southwestern Saskatchewan, to communities across Saskatchewan. This year, that tour will include a layover in Unity, at the Unity museum.
Of course, Scotty is far too large to bring the entire recovered structure to our town. The travelling Royal Saskatchewan Museum exhibit features a T. Rex skull, over 1.33 metres, or 4.5 feet, in length. T. Rex had approximately 50 teeth in its mouth. The teeth vary in shape and size but the largest teeth are up to 30 centimetres, or a foot, long. With serrated edges and a curved back design, the teeth were designed for grabbing, stabbing and crushing prey.
The exhibit’s labels introduce visitors to both T. Rex and the environment that existed in Saskatchewan 65 million years ago.
According to the RSM’s website, approximately 65 per cent of Scotty, the tyrannosaurus rex, was recovered including most of the skull and jaws, many vertebra and ribs, the hip bones, most of one hind leg and other assorted bones – proof that dinosaurs once roamed our province.
Scotty’s skull was not found in one piece. The many bones that make up the skull had become separated and were scattered across the quarry. Each bone was cleaned, and then molded and cast to produce replicas. The missing bones were reconstructed based on what palaeontologists know about T. Rex skulls.
Even though Scotty’s teeth were large, his brain was small, measuring only 17 centimetres. However, the T-Rex hunted by smell and the organs responsible for that sense of smell are over eight inches long, giving Scotty a keen sense of smell. Palaeontologists believe the T-Rex was a scavenger more than a hunter.
The RSM website states, “The quarry where Scotty was found is unusual. The conditions that favour the preservation of bone rarely favour the preservation of plant material. However, this quarry yielded not only the bones of other animals but also a variety of plant remains. These plants indicate that Scotty lived in a broad river valley covered with a forest of broadleaf and coniferous trees. The presence of palms suggests that temperatures were warmer than present, and that freezing rarely occurred. However, 65 million years ago, Saskatchewan was situated much further north than today, so even though winters may have been warmer, they had much longer hours of darkness - a situation that exists nowhere on earth today.”
Scotty’s skull started travelling to communities throughout Saskatchewan in 2005. This one of a kind, amazing exhibit, discovered right here in our province, will be on display in Unity, at the Unity and District Museum from May 2015 into the fall. As well, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum will provide a paleontologist during the grand opening, to add an expert account of not only the discovery and recovery of Scotty but the history behind this magnificent creature that once roamed our province.
The museum folks are hoping this will be a terrific drawing card to the Unity and District Heritage Museum during the time the exhibit is housed there. It will be a great opportunity for school groups to tour the museum and see this exhibit, normally at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina.
Mark May on your calendar and come see what roamed the Prairies long before the buffalo. Come and get a first-hand look at a 65-million-year-old piece of history.