Ken Lacovara's Drexel University laboratory was crammed with sturdy wooden crates, each one packed with bones from the monster that he affectionately refers to as "Dread."

It was dinosaur shipping time.

Seventeen crates, six pallets, 150 bones. The remains of Dreadnoughtus schrani and two smaller prehistoric creatures had to fit inside a 40-foot shipping container on Monday.

Would it work?

Lacovara, a Drexel paleontologist, announced in September that he and colleagues had discovered the massive beast in the Patagonia region of Argentina. With an estimated weight of more than 65 tons, it was among the heaviest animals to walk the Earth.

The fossils were shipped to Drexel for cleaning and analysis in 2009, with the understanding that eventually they would return home to South America.

As he surveyed the crates on Monday, with bits of dark-gray bone visible through gaps in the wood, Lacovara acknowledged feeling a bit wistful.

"I imagine it's like when your kid goes off to college," he said.

Enough sentiment. There was heavy lifting on the agenda, and a group of 10 graduate and undergraduate student helpers to supervise.

One by one, the crates were rolled into a freight elevator on a device called a pallet jack.

Truck driver Ben Smith waited below at the loading dock, behind Drexel's Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building.

"I've done everything from cotton balls to explosives," said Smith, of Evans Delivery in Schuylkill Haven, Pa. "A lot of things, but not a dinosaur."

The first crate went into the shipping container shortly after 11 a.m.

Emma Fowler, a junior majoring in paleontology, stood by with a diagram she had drawn up on a computer, detailing exactly how the crates were to be arranged.

The best anyone could tell, there would be two inches to spare.

"So if I would have found one more bone, we'd be in trouble," Lacovara said.

In addition to being a scientist, Lacovara is an accomplished woodworker, and built most of the crates himself.

The work was slow but steady. One of the dinosaur's thigh bones weighed nearly 1,000 pounds.

Soon after 2:30, it was done. The door came down, and Smith drove off to the Port of Philadelphia.

After going through Customs, Dread's bones depart for Argentina on Friday, just one of hundreds of containers aboard the cargo ship Tamina.

Final destination: the Father Jesús Molina Regional Museum, in Río Gallegos.

It cost $20,000 to ship the bones up here. Lacovara does not yet know the cost for the return trip, nor does he know yet how much it all weighs.

The load weighed 16 tons on the way up, but will be somewhat less on the way back, as preparators chipped away a lot of excess rock and dirt from the fossils.

Though wistful, Lacovara has had fun with the process as well, asking Facebook friends for a caption beneath an image of one especially big bone-filled crate.

Surely no one can top the offering from Lacovara's musician friend Gary Schwartz:

"The Crateful Dread."

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