Key Center School in Springfield, Virginia wins SVP’s National Fossil Day drawing

November 22, 2017

Key Center School in Springfield, Virginia has an exciting new addition, Teratophoneus, a tyrannosaur relative of T. rex.  To highlight awareness of the spectacular fossil finds at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, SVP held a drawing in October at its National Fossil Day booth on the Mall in Washington, DC.  Visitors were allowed to enter their school to win a life-size, museum-quality cast of the skull of this Cretaceous dinosaur.  Key Center was the lucky winner.

Scott Foss, Deb Tinker, Ann Smith (Principal of Key Center School), and Cathy Forster at Key Center School with the Teratophoneus cast.

Last Friday, former SVP President Cathy Forster and SVP member Scott Foss presented the cast to the school.  They were greeted by a group of about 40 kids, along with teachers, and facilitators.  Ann Smith, the school’s principal, said that the School was “looking forward to receiving the cast to seeing our students learn more about it!”  After a short presentation about Teratophoneus and other finds from Grand Staircase, the kids had a look at the skull close-up.  Cathy reported, “One boy touched the jugal, so I told him it was the dinosaur's cheek. He kept touching the jugal, then his own cheek and laughing with such delight.”

Key Center is a public day school that serves students with intellectual disabilities and severe autism, with students who range from age 5 to 22.  Each classroom has a teacher, a personal health assistant and a personal health training assistant.  The school is closely affiliated with Key Middle School, also in Springfield, Virginia.  The two schools will share the Teratophoneus for their science classes and other events.

Key Center students and staff examine Teratophoneus with Cathy Forster.

Teratophoneus curriei is a tyrannosaur from the Campanian (Late Cretaceous) of North America.  It was described by Carr, Williamson, Bridt, and Stadtman in 2011 based on a partial skull and skeleton collected on the Kaiparowits Plateau of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  That material is housed in public trust at Brigham Young University.  In the last six years, several other Teratophoneus individuals have been discovered at Grand Staircase, including a virtually complete skull and skeleton that was airlifted from its discovery site on the Plateau in October this year.  The Kaiparowits Plateau has produced one of the most complete examples of a Late Cretaceous ecosystem in the world, including 13 new dinosaur species, 11 new mammals, and 13 new species belonging to other vertebrate groups.

The Teratophoneus cast was produced by Gaston Design, Inc. of Colorado.  Gaston Design manufactures a large line of museum-quality casts, including many of the dinosaurs recovered from Grand Staircase.  Donations from Christopher Bell, Rob Gaston, Nathan Myhrvold, Pat O’Connor, Mike Polcyn, David Polly, Nancy Stevens, Glenn Storrs, and Ted Vlamis helped SVP acquire the cast for the National Fossil Day drawing.