The well-preserved skull belongs to a 66 million-year-old female T. rex excavated in Montana in 2013 and acquired by Naturalis in 2014. The original skeleton will be displayed at Naturalis in the Dutch city of Leiden in September 2016.
After arriving at Fraunhofer EZRT in Fuerth, the fossil underwent a high-resolution CT scan, designed to provide detailed 3D X-ray images of its structure. The Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and Fraunhofer EZRT will present the research findings later this month. TNT will transport the specimen back to the United States in the first week of June 2015.
The 690 kilo skull made the 7,800 km journey from the United States in a 1.90-metre long wooden crate, carefully prepared and sealed. TNT drove the skull over a distance of 2,785 km from South Dakota to JFK Airport in New York, flew it to its air hub in Liege using a Boeing 747 aircraft, and then trucked it to Fuerth. Regular status updates were provided throughout the journey. On the way back the skull will make a stopover in Amsterdam for a national TV show. The specially-branded TNT truck used for the transport is equipped with state-of-the-art tracking technology and driven by 'special services' drivers.
"We are proud to assist the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in bringing a rare T. rex skeleton to Europe," said Grant Cochrane, Global Special Services Director, TNT. "At TNT, we have the required expertise and a history of delivering very special cargo. But this is our first opportunity to handle a prehistoric item of such research value."