Express Freight Carrier Shows Skill with a Skull

Friday, June 5, 2015

NETHERLANDS – US – GERMANY – Historically the old fossils on the News Desk here at the Handy Shipping Guide have always been inundated by emails of the latest and greatest freight shipments, and our skeleton staff have no bones about discarding the boring ones. Sometimes however something comes along that is truly deserving of a rapturous round applause, when Netherlands headquartered express freight carrier TNT safely shipped the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex from the US to Germany, and back again.

Priceless is a term bandied about only too often but the well-preserved skull belongs to a 66 million-year-old female T-rex excavated in Montana in 2013 and acquired by the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre (Netherlands) in 2014 and is simply irreplaceable. The original skeleton will be displayed at Naturalis in the Dutch city of Leiden in September 2016.

The 690 kilogramme skull made the 7,800 kilometre journey from the the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota, US, in a 1.9 metre long wooden crate, carefully prepared and sealed. TNT drove the skull over a distance of 2,785 km from South Dakota to JFK Airport in New York, flew it to its air hub in Liege using a Boeing 747 aircraft, and then hauled her to the Fraunhofer EZRT research institute in Fuerth, Germany.

After arriving in Fuerth, the fossil underwent a high-resolution CT scan, designed to provide detailed 3D X-ray images of its structure. The Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and Fraunhofer EZRT will present the research findings later this month, but has revealed that the inside of the skull was relatively intact for something that has had 66 million years to decay.

Regular status updates were provided throughout the journey and on her way back to the US, the skull will make a stopover in Amsterdam for a national TV show. The specially-branded TNT truck used for the transport is equipped with state-of-the-art tracking technology and driven by 'special services' drivers. Grant Cochrane, Global Special Services Director, TNT, said:

“We are proud to assist the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre in bringing a rare T-rex skeleton to Europe. At TNT, we have the required expertise and a history of delivering very special cargo. But this is our first opportunity to handle a prehistoric item of such research value."

Editors Note: That opening paragraph shows the quality of journalism you get when I have a day off fishing!