How To Transport a T-Rex Skeleton Across the Country

The Wankel Tyrannosaurus Rex has lived the past 26 years of its 65-million-year existence at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. This week the colossal creature's carcass is moving to the National Museum of Natural History in D.C., where it will eventually live in a new $35 million dinosaur hall. But how does it make the trip safely? Popular Mechanics explains.

The Wankel T. Rex lacks some ribs, the end of its tail, and a part of its foot, but at 85 percent cooked, it's one of the most complete T. Rex specimens we have. Given that it's about 38 feet from nose to tail, and weighs around five tons, its 2,000-mile journey can't exactly go by Priority Mail. Per Popular Mechanics, the packing process is a tedious one:

The bones were packed in boxes filled with foam while many pieces were preserved with plaster jackets. The packages were then inspected by the Army Corps of Engineers before it was loaded into an 18-wheeler.

After leaving the Museum of the Rockies, the dinosaur was handled by FedEx Custom Critical, a branch of FedEx designed to ship unconventional payloads. "This is a first for us so we're very excited," says Katie Wassmer, a spokesperson for FedEx. "We've shipped parts of fossils and even parts of the Titanic when it was going through a museum exposition, but never a full skeleton."

The truck, by the way, was slapped with the slogan: "Delivering History: The Nation's T. Rex. Hell yeah:

On its entire trip, the interior of the trailer remained at room temperature, as requested by the Smithsonian. So the 18-wheeler is climate controlled, and if the temperature would have gone outside the acceptable zone, the sensors would have alerted the driver to readjust the temperature. In addition, the truck is able to adjust barometric pressure and humidity as well... A security device about the size of two iPhones, known as SenseAware, is then attached to each crate to monitor interior temperature and also detect light, meaning would-be thieves would be caught as soon as they pried open a crate. SenseAware also creates a geo fence that keeps track of each package, especially if it leaves its preset location. The two-person team driving the truck is also tailed by a two-person security team all the way from Montana to D.C.

The Wankel T. Rex will be on display at the Smithsonian until October, after which it will make another trip to Canada to be fitted with a custom structure for the dino hall, which will open fall 2019. [Popular Mechanics]

Photo via Museum of the Rockies