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'Tiny' The Thornton Dinosaur Makes Its Public Debut Alongside 'Sue The T. Rex' At Denver Museum Of Nature & Science

DENVER (CBS4) - A dinosaur we know very well here at CBS4 has a high-profile role in the traveling exhibit Sue the T. rex at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. It's a traveling cast of the largest known tyrannosaurus rex which resides at the Field Museum in Chicago.

The exhibit includes a display of a T. rex fighting its mortal enemy, a triceratops. Here in Denver, an ersatz "triceratops" also plays a role.

Construction workers building a new police and fire department in Thornton found dinosaur bones in 2017. A call had paleontologists from the museum racing to the area. For weeks, they excavated the bones, the early belief was they belonged to a fairly common triceratops. The dig excited everyone in the neighborhood and students at the nearby Bratner Elementary School nicknamed the dino "Tiny."

Back in the lab at the museum, Dr. Joe Sertich finally got inside case holding Tiny's frill and discovered not a triceratops but a torosaurus, a rare, latest Cretaceous dinosaur.

tiny the torosaurus dmns
(credit: DMNS)

Now a cast of Tiny, which includes the most complete skull of a torosaurus, is on display alongside the traveling exhibit.

Robert Gaston of Gaston Design Inc. in Fruita created the cast. It's considered just one step in the process of studying and communicating the museum's research on the incredible fossil.

A number of other casts of Colorado dinosaur fossils are also on display from dinosaurs found across the state including a T. rex found in Littleton in 1992, another unknown horned dinosaur and the triceratops found in Highlands Ranch in 2019.

And that's another exciting message the museum wants to share.

"When our visitors are out there hiking and walking around or even going to the mall," said Jennifer Moss Logan, "they can know they are standing right where dinosaurs were."

She explained that's because the Front Range is essentially "Dino Central."

"When we start to do our construction, we are in a time period from 66-67 million years ago," Logan said. "This is a time when T. rex was roaming, when torosaurus and triceratops were roaming this area. A warm swampy area, green lush forests for for these guys (torosaurus) to munch on and for T. rex to hide in and come across this kind of dinosaur (torosaurus)."

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