‘Dueling Dinosaurs’ fossil, hidden from science for 14 years, could finally reveal its secrets

For more than a decade, paleontologists have speculated about a single fossil that preserves skeletons of two of the world’s most famous dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. Not only are the bones arranged as they once were in life, but the dinosaurs are practically intertwined.

Each specimen is among the best of its kind ever found. Together, the pair—nicknamed the “Dueling Dinosaurs”—present a paleontological mystery: Did the beasts just happen to be entombed together by chance, perhaps as carcasses caught on the same river sandbar? Or had they been locked in mortal combat? Nobody has been able to study the fossil to find out.

The Dueling Dinosaurs fossil may represent a lethal struggle between a Triceratops and a juvenile T. rex, shown here in this artist’s reconstruction of prehistoric Montana.

Illustration by Anthony Hutchings

But that’s about to change. After years of legal battles that left the fossil locked

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‘Dueling Dinosaurs’ fossil of T. rex, triceratops sold for $6 million

  • The “Dueling Dinosaurs” fossil is made up of intertwined T. rex and triceratops skeletons. 
  • The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences bought it for $6 million and will display the fossils starting in 2022.
  • Researchers there will examine the bones in detail and investigate whether the dinosaurs actually died in a duel. 
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A 67-million-year-old fossil pair known as “Dueling Dinosaurs” consists of a remarkably preserved T. rex alongside the bones of an equally intact Triceratops.

For years, the skeletons languished in labs and warehouses as ranchers and paleontologists fought a legal battle over their ownership. On Tuesday, that fight ended: The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences bought the dinosaurs for $6 million, according to the Charlotte Observer. The 30,000-pound fossils will soon arrive at the museum, which plans to begin work on a new Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit in May. 

The display, slated

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‘Dueling dinosaurs’ fossils show Triceratops, T. rex, may have died after a battle

It may have been a battle for the ages in ancient Montana.



a herd of cattle walking across a river


© Matt Zeher/North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences


About 67 million years ago, two iconic dinosaurs, a Triceratops horridus and a Tyrannosaurus rex, died and were quickly buried together side by side in a single grave. And both of them bear battle scars. It’s the kind of showdown scientists have speculated about for years, but it has only ever appeared in “Jurassic Park” games — until now.

The impressively complete skeletons of these “dueling dinosaurs” will go on display and be studied at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in 2022, the museum announced Tuesday. The museum is located in downtown Raleigh.

The fossil of the Triceratops was first discovered 2006 as it eroded out of sedimentary rock from the Hell Creek Formation. This rock formation, which dates to 65.5 million years ago, was named for

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