DALLAS — Millions of years ago, Tyrannosaurus rex stalked the earth, chowing down on whatever it wanted.

A replica of the prehistoric predator, named Rexy, greets visitors at the new Frisco Public Library in Texas. Standing at over 20 feet tall, Rexy lifts the past off the page and shows how libraries can bring unseen worlds to life.

The ‘perfect fit’

When the Frisco Public Library planned its move to a former rocket factory, director Shelley Holley knew she wanted to take advantage of the building’s tall ceilings. She envisioned an educational, attention-grabbing display at the entrance to the children’s area.

She looked up a list of the most popular children’s nonfiction books and reading subjects. Dinosaurs ranked high.

The T. rex was chosen because of its height, making the most of the high ceilings. The dinosaur’s name, Rexy, was chosen by a public vote on the library’s website.

“Rexy was just the perfect fit,” Holley said. “She works with the building, she is a topic of great interest to a lot of people and she’s touchable.”

Created by Artisan Industry in Tennessee, Rexy was brought to Frisco in parts. Once she arrived, she was assembled in a few days.

Rexy’s vertebrae are strung together on a hollow, S-shaped steel rod that runs from the base of her neck to the end of her tail. Her feet have a thick coating, so kids can walk and sit on them. Next to Rexy, rocks with seats allow kids to read to her and dinosaur footprints throughout the library floor cause rumbling sounds when stepped on.

Prehistoric predators

T. rexes grew up to 40 feet long and 10 to 12 feet tall measured from the ground to above their hips, according to Ron Tykoski, vice president of science at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The replica at the Frisco Public Library is larger than a typical T. rex would have been.

“She is kind of oversized, but you know, this is Texas,” Holley said. “What do you do?”

Scientists have found T. rex fossils in the northern United States in Montana and Wyoming, and in Southern Canada. Some T. rex fossils have also been found in West Texas, including part of a hind leg at Big Bend National Park.

T. rex dinosaurs are known for having large heads and amusingly small arms. Since they relied heavily on their heads and necks to grab and chomp on prey, Tykoski suspects they may have evolved to use their arms less over time.

“There’s no reason expending energy to grow big, long arms with big heavy claws that are never being used,” he said.

The T. rex replica at the Frisco library isn’t anatomically correct, Tykoski said, but he doesn’t see that as the point. It represents a topic kids enjoy and will hopefully draw them in.

“If it gets kids in there and they grab books and start reading, it’s done its job,” he said.

Holley has a favorite spot in the library where she can watch visitors set eyes on Rexy for the first time.

A few mornings ago, she walked into the building and saw a mom with a little girl round the corner.

As they came face to face with Rexy, the little girl opened her mouth and said, “Rawr!”

“It wasn’t scary,” Holley said. “It was an ‘oh, wow’ kind of sound.”

It’s exactly the reaction she was hoping for.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tribune Wire

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.