Peter, a 67 million-year-old T-rex skeleton, is coming to Auckland Museum in 2022

There was a big announcement from Auckland Museum on Saturday: Peter is coming to Auckland.

He's 4m-tall and 12m-long, and is one of the first Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons to go on display in the Southern Hemisphere.

Peter died about 67 million years ago in the US state of Wyoming, where his legs were gnawed off.

The T-rex is the king of the dinosaurs and Peter is a king of kings.

You're usually lucky if you find 5 percent of a T-rex's bones, but excavators found 47 percent of Peter's, which - almost uniquely - have turned black.

"Maybe two or three other specimens found but Peter is just lucky to have been fossilised and sent away for everybody to look at him," said David Burnham, Kansas University preparator.

Peter was discovered in Wyoming four years ago and was probably the victim of one of his own.

"His legs were found but his legs had been chewed up pretty severely," Tim Hart, Auckland War Memorial Museum public experience director, explained.

"The only animal that can really crush a fresh T-rex thigh bone is another T-rex, so the theory is that actually there was a fight and potentially there was a bit of cannibalism that went on afterwards." 

The journey to Auckland will be the first time he's ever travelled. It'll be quite the sight for Auckland museum-goers.

"They'll come face to face - and when they see that huge skull and those giant teeth they'll go like 'wow, those silly little arms don't make sense, but that head sure does'," Burnham said.

They've built whole movie franchises on the jaws of this apex predator, from Jurassic Park to Night at the Museum.

"It had superpowers from the dinosaur world; they were the epitome of a predator. I mean, no other animal has achieved that status to this day."

The T-rex possessed enhanced hearing and smell, the strongest-ever bite, and the world's largest eyeballs.

"It could see seven football fields away - that's incredible - with precision eyesight that was also stereoscopic," said Burnham.

Peter will arrive in crates. 

He's flying in from Germany, where he's been mounted - so there's a steel armature and the bones will be placed in sequence on that.

Eight crates are due early next week, and he'll take 10 days to be reconstructed at the museum's entrance.

Curators hope Peter's appearance will get plenty of visitors back to the museum after two years of disruption due to the pandemic.