Video: 'Samson' debuts

updated 5/13/2004 11:33:11 PM ET 2004-05-14T03:33:11

Researchers at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on Thursday unveiled what they say is the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skull ever discovered.

Nicknamed "Samson," the skull may challenge scientific beliefs about the dinosaur, said Chris Beard, the museum's curator of paleontology.

There are about 30 T. rex skulls worldwide, but most are incomplete or distorted by fossilization, museum officials said. "Samson" appears to be nearly complete and undistorted.

"Samson could be the most important T. rex skull ever collected," Beard said. "There is a tremendous amount of scientifically important information to be garnered."

The skull was dug up on a South Dakota ranch in 1992 and acquired by businessman Graham Lacey. Lacey, who owns the skull, selected the Carnegie museum to remove dirt and other debris encasing the skull. The process will take about two years.

The public can watch the skull being cleaned up at the museum's PaleoLab during regular business hours. Progress will be posted on the museum's Web site.

Once completed, the Carnegie will keep a cast of the skull for its "Dinosaurs in Their World" expansion project.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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