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A 66-million-year-old T. Rex to fly from Chicago to Amsterdam

A 66 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil flew today from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to the Netherlands on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight 612.

More than 250 passengers shared their flight with this remarkably well preserved dinosaur fossil. The T. rex was excavated in Montana by the Dutch museum, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, in 2013 and in cooperation with the Black Hills Institute of Hill City, South Dakota. The T. rex will be exhibited at Naturalis in Leiden, the Netherlands. This historic find will make Naturalis the first museum outside North America to own and exhibit a T. rex.

Private and public support in the Netherlands helped enable the arrival of the T. rex in Leiden. Many people spontaneously suggested the name Trix for this Grand Old Lady. From September 10 until June 5, 2017, Trix will reside at Naturalis in the exhibition, “T. rex in Town.” At the end of 2018, she will have a place of honor in the dinosaur hall of the new museum in Leiden.

Trix is a unique find. With almost 80 percent of bone volume found and exquisite, non-deformed bone quality, she ranks in the top three of best T. rex skeletons in the world. Dr. Anne Schulp, head of T. rex research at Naturalis, said, “When we started the search for T. rex, I could not have imagined us finding such a remarkable and distinctive individual.” Trix’s original skull is mounted on the skeleton, as well, which is also a first in the world. The skeleton measures 12.5 meters (41 feet) from nose to tail and four meters (13 feet) from the hip down.

“If there is one dinosaur that everyone wants to look in the eye, it is the fierce predator Tyrannosaurus rex,” said Naturalis director Edwin van Huis. “It is my dream coming true that our T. rex Trix is now on her way to Leiden to inspire both scientists and museum visitors. I feel privileged and honored that so many people joined us to make this journey possible.”

Trix could not undertake her journey without the extra donation of the BankGiro Loterij to the yearly contribution to Naturalis, aided by the support of KLM Cargo, the Dutch diplomatic network in the US, the Black Hills Institute, and the Chicago Department of Aviation.

“Air France KLM flies almost 90 million passengers and transports 1.2 million tons of cargo a year. It is a big honor for us to be part of this T. rex experience, and give our passengers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly with a T. rex,” said Marcel de Nooijer, EVP KLM Cargo said. “We have transported Trix from Hill City, S.D., via truck to Chicago, and will use the utmost care in flying her to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.”

“Trix is a symbol of the international scientific cooperation between the Netherlands and the United States,” said Louis Piët, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chicago. “Trix will be for Naturalis what Rembrandt’s ‘Nightwatch’ is for the Rijksmuseum, and she will be an important contribution to the scientific research that is conducted in Leiden.”

“We are proud to be an integral part of T. rex Trix’s journey to inspire the children and dinosaur lovers of the Netherlands and Europe,” said Peter Larson, President of the Black Hills Institute for Geological Research Inc. “After three years of exciting and hard work, collecting, preparing and mounting her skeleton, we wish bon voyage to this international scientific ambassador.”

“We are thrilled that O’Hare International Airport is the gateway for the historic transport of Trix,” said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans. “This is truly an exciting day for the CDA and the City of Chicago.”

Follow Trix’s journey from Chicago to the Netherlands on Twitter with #Trexpat.