A new resident has joined the paleontological exhibit at the H. Earl Clack Museum, and the museum board members said Monday they are looking for a name for the new dinosaur.
Museum manager Jim Spangelo said that the casting of the head of the albertosaurus, mounted in the corner just inside the museum door, goes with specimens of the Tyrannosaurus rex relative on display in the exhibits the casting overlooks.
“We already had albertosaurus (exhibits) in the museum … ,” Spangelo said. “All of these are a class of tyrannosaurs that were the major predators in this area.”
He added that the new exhibit is very popular, especially with younger patrons of the museum.
Board chair Judi Dritshulas said she and Elaine Morse, president of the museum funding foundation board, traveled to the Fort Peck Field Station of Paleontology to pick up the albertosaurus head casting, now mounted in the museum overlooking its displays that already include specimens of the relative of Tyrannosaurus rex.
Dritshulas profusely thanked Morse, saying she could not have gotten the exhibit back without her help and also thanked the foundation for paying the $551 to buy the casting.
The board bought the casting in an online auction of items from Fort Peck Paleontology Inc. The nonprofit went out of business after it payed an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit filed by South Dakota-based Black Hills Institute of Geological Research alleging Fort Peck Paleontology had illegally made unauthorized castings of fossils.
Dritshulas said it was sad to see the Fort Peck facilities shut down and closed up when they went to retrieve the casting.
The board members discussed how to find a name for the dinosaur casting and agreed a contest for local children, as it has used to name previous exhibits, probably was the best way to go.
The board plans to announce the contest rules, then announce the name of the new exhibit at the Dinosaur Christmas children’s event planned for December.
The board has used contests to find names for exhibits before, including Ducky, the locally found infant duck-billed lambeosaurus fossils, and Melvin, the 1/10th size casting of an infant maiasaura, and Stigy, the casting of a stygimoloch head the museum won in a Montana Dinosaur Trail contest.
Spangelo said albertosaurus fossils, primarily found in the Canadian province of Alberta, has been found in local fossil discoveries that include the famous lambeosaur egg clutch now on display in the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. A casting of that fossil is on display in the Clack Museum.
Albertosaurus teeth were found with the egg clutch, and fossils of albertosaurus claws also are on display in the museum.
The T. rex relative roamed this area about 70 million years ago, Spangelo said.