Three Boys In North Dakota Happened Upon The Remains Of A T. Rex While Out For A Hike

Published June 5, 2024

The boys came across the T. rex fossil while walking through the North Dakota badlands in an area long known for its dinosaur remains.

Boys With North Dakota T Rex Fossil

Denver Museum of Nature & ScienceDr. Tyler Lyson and Liam Fisher, Kaiden Madsen, and Jessin Fisher, the boys who found the fossil, awaiting a helicopter to airlift the dinosaur remains.

In the summer of 2022, brothers Liam and Jessin Fisher, their cousin Kaiden Madsen, and their father Sam Fisher went for a hike in the North Dakota badlands. As they were walking, they noticed an aberration in the rocks which they suspected was a fossil. In fact, they eventually discovered, they’d stumbled upon the remains of an adolescent T. rex.

The discovery of the T. rex — nicknamed “Teen Rex” because it was between 13 to 15 years old when it died — came as a welcome surprise to a Denver museum, which has added the almost complete specimen to its collection.

How Three Boys Came Across A T. Rex In The North Dakota Badlands

Liam Fisher With T Rex Fossil
T Rex Teeth In Sandstone
Liam Fisher Jessin Fisher Kaiden Madsen
Partially Excavated T Rex
Three Boys In North Dakota Happened Upon The Remains Of A T. Rex While Out For A Hike
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According to a statement from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the T. rex fossil was first noticed in the summer of 2022. Liam, then seven, Jessin, then 10, and their cousin Kaiden, then nine, were walking through the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota with Liam and Jessin's father Sam when they noticed something among the rocks that looked like a fossil.

Sam snapped a picture, and sent it to his high school classmate, Tyler Lyson, the curator of paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

"To me it looked a bit like a duckbill dinosaur...the second most common dinosaur in these badlands," Lyson explained in a video posted by the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Lyson continued: "It wasn't until later when I really started to scrutinize the photo that I start to have some suspicions that it might be part of a Tyrannosaurus Rex."

Boys With North Dakota T Rex

Sam Fisher/Denver Museum of Nature & ScienceA photo that Sam Fisher sent to Tyler Lyson, showing the boys kneeling next to a fossilized bone.

To investigate further, Lyson led an 11-day excavation in the Hell Creek Formation, located just south of south of Marmarth, North Dakota. There, as he and his team — and the boys — carefully excavated the site, Lyson suddenly came across a T. rex tooth. And then he found two more.

"We had just uncovered the lower jaw of this juvenile T-rex," Lyson recalled.

"An Incredible Dinosaur Discovery"

North Dakota T Rex Tooth

Rick Wicker/Denver Museum of Nature & ScienceOne of the T. rex teeth that was uncovered during the excavation.

With that, it was clear that the boys had stumbled upon a T. rex fossil. The dinosaur died between the age of 13 and 15 years old, and probably weighed around 3,500 pounds.

Lyson and his team were able to excavate the remains of the dinosaur, wrap it in protective plaster, and airlift it by helicopter back to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. It's the most complete T. rex specimen that the museum has ever collected, and will soon be put on display as part of a temporary exhibit dubbed: "Discovering Teen Rex."

T Rex Mural

Andrey Atuchin/Denver Museum of Nature & ScienceHow an adolescent T. rex may have looked while roaming the North Dakota badlands some 67 million years ago.

This discovery comes amid a flurry of findings about T. Rex in recent years, from its true size to its bite power to its legs that weren't built for running. Indeed, paleontologist are learning more and more about T. rex each year, some 65 million years after it last walked the Earth.

And the unearthing of this T. rex fossil in North Dakota both sheds more light on this prehistoric beast and goes to show how many wonders are waiting to be found in the natural world. While on a simple hike, Liam, Jessin, and Kaiden's sharp eyes led to the astounding discovery of prehistoric fossils. As Lyson noted:

"By going outside and embracing their passions and the thrill of discovery, these boys have made an incredible dinosaur discovery that advances science and deepens our understanding of the natural world."

After reading about the T. rex fossils found by a group of young boys in North Dakota, look through this list of some of the world's most unbelievable prehistoric animals. Then, enjoy this list of fascinating facts about dinosaurs.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Fraga, Kaleena. "Three Boys In North Dakota Happened Upon The Remains Of A T. Rex While Out For A Hike.", June 5, 2024, Accessed June 22, 2024.