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Posted 6/27/2013

Release no. 20130627-001



Michael A Coffey

PORTLAND, Ore. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Northwestern Division, has entered into an agreement with the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History to loan the institution one of the Army's two Tyrannosaurus Rex (T. rex) specimens for a period of 50 years.

The specimen will be a centerpiece of the National Museum of Natural History's new paleobiology hall which will open in 2019. The fossil, identified as the Wankel T. rex, was discovered by Kathy and Tom Wankel in 1988, while fishing near the Nelson Creek Recreation Area at Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana. Fort Peck Reservoir is managed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District.

Following excavation in 1993, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Corps and the Museum of the Rockies, located in Bozeman, Montana, to provide for long-term care and management of the specimen. "We are honored that the Wankel T. rex will be representing Montana at our national museum," said Waded Cruzado, President of Montana State University. "This is such an important paleontological find, and all of us are very proud to see it displayed for the Nation and the world."

The signing of the new loan agreement with the National Museum of Natural History took place in Northwestern Division Headquarters on June 17. In signing the loan agreement, Brigadier General Anthony C. Funkhouser said, "This agreement begins a long-standing partnership between the Corps of Engineers and the Smithsonian Institution that leverages the Institution's ability to showcase the Corps' and Montana's strong commitment to national heritage stewardship at the state and national levels."  Smithsonian Institution Sant Director Dr. Kirk Johnson added, "We are happy to enter into this significant partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and to display this amazing fossil to the millions of people who visit the National Museum of Natural History each year."

Since 1906, Congress has passed numerous laws and regulations that recognize the importance of preserving and showcasing our Nation's heritage and paleontological resources for the benefit of the American public. These laws and regulations identify these nonrenewable heritage resources as significant and require that they be preserved for the education and use of future generations. The Corps of Engineers is proud to participate in the effort to protect and preserve the Nation's paleontological resources by maintaining state-of-the-art expertise in natural resource and heritage assets stewardship in support of U.S. government agencies. The Corps' Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections, in the St. Louis District—which is one of the largest single organizations in the Department of Defense dedicated to addressing heritage assets—has assisted with the loan document and curatorial issues associated with this very important paleontological treasure.