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Tinker the Tyrannosaurus headlines weekend expo

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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 the first time in the region this weekend, courtesy of the Sincak Natural History Collection at Mercyhurst University.

Curator Scott McKenzie and Mercyhurst students will erect the cast on Thursday at the Bayfront Convention Center, where it will be featured as part of the Erie Rock Gem & Jewelry Show, which runs Nov. 7-9. The Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute is a partner in the event hosted by Erie Promotions Expos Inc. 

McKenzie said the cast, bequeathed to Mercyhurst upon the death of Michael Sincak last spring, 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, he said.

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

“It’s more than 20 feet long with a skull the length of a yardstick; it’s probably going to take about 10 people to put it together,” McKenzie said.

The individual who discovered the remains brought them to Michael and Barbara Sincak, knowing they were among the best in the business to piece it together and forge a cast, McKenzie said. Over the years, the Sincaks have gifted Mercyhurst University many casts, fossils and other collector’s 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 the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, 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. 

According to the Erie Promotions web page, event hours for this weekend’s show are Friday, 2 to 7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FILE PHOTO:  Scott McKenzie (front) with students (from left) Jacob Podyma, Elliot Baker, Patrick Nolan (graduated in May) and Cole Nypaver. Here they are with Tinker the Tyrannosaurus at the National Fossil Expo in Iowa City last April.