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He's baaack: Tinker the T-Rex headlines new exhibit

Thursday, September 15, 2016

With the sequel to 2015’s "Jurassic World" in the making and word that it is the midpoint in a trilogy of films, Mercyhurst University paleontologist Scott McKenzie said the timing couldn’t be better to resurrect Tinker the T-Rex.

“There is so much interest these days in the age of dinosaurs, and Mercyhurst is excited to share the wonder of it all,” McKenzie said in announcing the university’s newest dinosaur exhibit, "The World of T-Rex," at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC) from Nov. 7, 2016, to Feb. 24, 2017.

A cast of Tinker the Tyrannosaurus – the teenage T-rex whose fossilized remains were unearthed from northwest South Dakota in 1998 – will go on display for only the second time in the Erie region, thanks to a grant from The Friends of TREC to help facilitate its labor-intensive assembly. Besides Tinker, exhibit-goers will see real fossils from around the world, including dinosaur teeth, jaws and eggs. The exhibit also will feature a Mercyhurst favorite currently in residence in the lobby of Zurn Hall: the cast of an enormous T-Rex skull, the likes of which can only be seen in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

The exhibit is part of the Sincak Natural History Collection at Mercyhurst University curated by McKenzie.

Tinker, bequeathed to Mercyhurst upon the death of Michael Sincak a couple years ago, depicts one of the most exciting T-rex skeletons ever found and is believed to be the first nearly complete fossilized skeleton of an adolescent T-rex. The original is in a European museum, McKenzie said.

At only two-thirds the weight of an adult T-rex, Tinker is still a formidable creature.

“He’s nearly 30 feet long with a skull the length of a yardstick,” McKenzie said.

Over the years, Barbara Sincak and her late husband have gifted Mercyhurst University many casts, fossils and other collectors’ pieces to build the Sincak collection, parts of which the university has shared with the public on many occasions, from providing shows on campus, to offering exhibits at TREC, to taking pieces on tour.

In all, McKenzie said, more than 300,000 people have viewed parts of the collection at one exhibit or another since 2006. 

TREC is open daily with free general admission from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. year-round with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.


(2014 FILE PHOTO:  Scott McKenzie (front) with Mercyhurst alumni (from left) Jacob Podyma, Elliot Baker and Patrick Nolan, and current student Cole Nypaver. Here they are with Tinker the Tyrannosaurus at the National Fossil Expo in Iowa City.)