Watch Paleontologists Dissect a T-Rex With a Chainsaw

'T. rex Autopsy' premieres on the National Geographic Channel tonight.

by Becky Ferreira
Jun 7 2015, 6:55pm

Lights, camera, autopsy. Image: National Geographic Channel

June is shaping up to be an exciting month for dinosaur enthusiasts. In addition to the release of Jurassic World next Friday, National Geographic will be premiering the documentary T. rex Autopsy tonight as part of a new lineup of dino-centric content.

The show features an autopsy on "the world's first full-size anatomically complete Tyrannosaurus rex," pictured below.

The star of T. rex Autopsy. Image: National Geographic Channel

This lifelike T-rex replica was constructed by artists based out of the creative effects studio Crawley Creatures, who spent roughly 10,000 hours building the 46-foot-long model. Its tough, leathery skin and bristles of the model were cast from various rubbers, plastics, and foam, while its sharp bristles are stripped-down goose feathers.

But what's most impressive is that its resemblance to the real Cretaceous carnivore isn't just skin deep. The show is, after all, about an autopsy, so the model contains meticulously crafted organs, and about 34 gallons of fake blood. As a bonus, the artists also threw in a Rex egg, stinky stomach contents, and some ersatz feces made of oatmeal, coffee, and synthetic "badger poo" scent.

Preview of T. rex Autopsy. Credit: NationalGeographic/YouTube

Over the course of T. rex Autopsy, a team of specialists, including paleontologist Steve Brusatte, use a chainsaw to dissect this comprehensive recreation of the most famous carnivorous dinosaur. We've all seen depictions of tyrannosaurs ravenously cramming prey down their gullets (RIP Donald Gennaro), but as the documentary demonstrates, simulating the entire digestion process is another story.

The T-Rex's heart was 100 times bigger than a human heart. Image: National Geographic Channel

For those interested in the finer details of tyrannosaur life—including the animal's hunting and mating behavior—T. rex Autopsy provides the ultimate inside look. Just be prepared to be vicariously grossed out a lot as the autopsy delves deeper into the "body." No doubt by the end of the filming process, the paleontologists on the team gained a new appreciation for the comparative neatness of fossilized remains.