Transporting a half-tonne heavy dinosaur skull

May 09, 2023

The Triceratops skull, the largest among land animals of its time, weighs approx. 500 kgs, and required delicate and professional handling on its journey from Canada via the US to Germany

A Triceratops skull from the Cretaceous Period between 145.5 and 65.5 million years ago was to exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. In a close cross-country collaboration between Canada, the US and Germany, the unusual cargo was successfully put on display after passing one of our most peculiar customs clearance procedures to date.

'Do you handle fossils?'

This was the initial request from the US customer, a private collector, who had agreed to loan the skull to the Museum of National History in Berlin.

As experienced professionals in handling all types of shipments, even without knowing the exact details, our Los Angeles team of airfreight experts said yes.

Images would soon reveal the actual transport object: a 500 kg heavy and 68-66 million years old Triceratops skull.

In close collaboration with colleagues in Canada and our import experts in Germany, they formed a team to safely manage the incredibly unique country-to-country shipment. They all agree:


We were astonished by what we saw and excited to be chosen for this once-in-a-lifetime transport


Clearing customs within a few hours

Because of the commodity's nature, challenges were expected and handled by a coordinated cross-country team effort.

'Close teamwork, active communication and organisation between our regional offices were key to securing the unusual cargo's success,' says Krizia Pacheco, Operations Manager, Los Angeles Airfreight Team.

After carefully wrapping and shipping the historic skull and bones from Los Angeles to France and trucking the rare cargo to Germany, it had to pass customs.


'Being a step ahead is essential to ensure a smooth handling as possible for such delicate transport,' Pascal Putzenlechner, Air Freight Import Manager, explains. 'Our first task was contacting customs in Frankfurt regarding any specific requirements relevant to this type of object. In close collaboration with our colleagues in Los Angeles, we procured the original documents and clarified everything in advance.'

Within a few hours, 'Amalie', as the skull is named after the owner's daughter, had cleared customs and was ready for the final leg of the journey.  



Carefully selected trucker

Nothing was left to chance, and arrangements were made with a carefully selected trucker to complete the last of the Triceratops skull's journey by road from Frankfurt to Berlin.

Early the next day, the Triceratops arrived safely and on time at the museum and were met by a tv crew and equally excited museum experts ready to assemble and display the enormous skull of one of the world's lost giants. Our experts oversaw the shipment's unloading and unpacking to ensure the skull and its parts were intact.


Expert collaboration required

It took several experts from logistics to customs, trucking, and archaeology to successfully complete the delicate and unusual transport.

It will only take a phone call, and our cross-country team of experts is ready to safely reverse the trip to return the Triceratops skull to its country of origin.

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