A monster and a museum almost devoid of people - These are the ingredients for our Instawalk at the Museum of Natural History, where Instagram photographers have the opportunity to take photos in a special location. I’m excited because I’m allowed to accompany them – and Tristan, the monster of all monsters, is already waiting for us. The shadows are long, the stairwell deserted, our steps echo loudly in the dim spaces of the deserted exhibition rooms. So this is what an Instawalk in an empty place feels like, I think, as we enter the Museum of Natural History through the side entrance, go up and down stairs and finally pass the huge Brachiosaurus brancai skeleton. Because today our actual mission is only the Tyrannosaurus Rex Tristan Otto.
Alone with the super T-Rex
And there he is. In a special exhibition room, there is nothing but the prehistoric giant and its prehistoric shadow. In the light of the exhibition rooms his black bones gleam and shimmer metallically. His jaw is wide open and the sharp teeth look like they were put together personally by Steven Spielberg. It is similar to a shark’s jaw and I learn that his bite could reach a force of up to 5 tonnes. The T-Rex had the strongest bite of all time and it is not surprising that his skull and teeth were too heavy to mount on the skeleton. Instead, they are exhibited in a special display case – luckily, I realise, because this means I can examine Tristan’s head close up. A museum employee tells me that the fascinating colouring of the skeleton is likely to originate from the mineral composition of its fossilisation and I marvel at the inventiveness of nature, which first created such a terrifying monster and then solidified it in such frightful beauty.
The best preserved original skeleton in Europe
Of course there are also a few hard facts about Tristan Otto: His skeleton has been exceptionally well-preserved and is currently the only original one in Europe. Additionally, he is an incredible • 66 million years old, • was discovered in 2010 in Montana, • 12 metres in length, • and about 4 metres in height. That Tristan’s measurements are gigantic becomes especially clear to me when I stand in front of and under him. In this moment, I am overwhelmed and envision how well I would fit in his mouth. Now every other museum visitor can imagine this and much more because the dinosaur on loan can be viewed in Berlin for at least 3 years with the slogan "Berlin shows teeth".
Research item and exhibition piece
At the same time, more research is going to be done on the super dinosaur. The highlight here: Viewers can watch the exhibition grow, because any new findings will be added to the exhibition room in the fantastically put together accompanying multi-media information. The focus of the research deals with various subject areas, among other things, the museum would like to find out why exactly Tristan’s fossilised bones are so black, what his habitat was like, and what the climate was like during his lifetime. Additionally, they want to determine whether the gigantic dinosaur is male or female. The name Tristan Otto wasn’t given based on its gender – the proud buyer Niels Nielsen simply named the T-Rex after his own son.