Sue (dinosaur)

Sue (dinosaur)

Infobox fossil

catalog number = FMNH PR2081
common name = Sue
species = "Tyrannosaurus rex"
age = between 67 and 65.5 million years
place discovered = Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, South Dakota
date discovered = 1990
discovered by = Susan Hendrickson
footnotes =

"Sue" is the nickname given to FMNH PR2081, which is the largest, most extensive and best preserved "Tyrannosaurus rex" specimen ever found. It was discovered in the summer of 1990 by Sue Hendrickson, a paleontologist, and was named after her. It is not known if the dinosaur was male or female. The fossil was sold for the highest amount of money ever paid for a dinosaur specimen, [cite web |url= |title= T-Rex Skull Auctioned For $276,000 |publisher= |accessdate=2007-12-06] and is now a permanent feature at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois. [ [ Sue at The FIeld Museum ] ]


During the summer of 1990, a group of workers from the Black Hills Institute, located in Hill City, searched for fossils at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, in western South Dakota near the city of Faith. By the end of the summer, the group had discovered "Edmontosaurus" bones and was ready to leave. However, before the group could depart, on August 12, a tire on their truck was deflated. [ Wright, Tommy: [ Unveiling Sue] , Retrieved on April 09, 2007] While the rest of the group went into town to repair the truck, Sue Hendrickson decided to explore the nearby cliffs that the group had left unchecked. As she was walking along the base of a cliff, she discovered some small pieces of bone. She looked above her to see where the bones had originated, and observed larger bones protruding from the wall of the cliff. She returned to camp with two small pieces of the bones and reported the discovery to the president of the Black Hills Institute, Peter Larson. [cite web |url= |title= T. rex dig goes online |publisher= |accessdate=2007-12-01] He determined that the bones were from a "T. rex" by their distinctive contour and texture. Later, closer examination of the site showed many visible bones above the ground and some articulated vertebrae. The crew ordered extra plaster and, although some of the crew had to depart, Susan and a few other workers began to uncover the bones. The group was excited, as it was evident that much of the dinosaur had been preserved. Previously discovered "T. rex" skeletons were usually missing over half of their bones.Larson, Peter; Donnan, Kristin. "Rex Appeal". 2002.] It was later ascertained that Sue was a record 80 percent complete. Scientists believe that this specimen was covered by water and mud soon after its death which prevented other animals from carrying away the bones. Additionally, the rushing water mixed the skeleton together. When the fossil was found, the hip bones were above the skull, and the leg bones were intertwined with the ribs. The large size and the excellent condition of the bones were also surprising. The skull was nearly five feet long, and most of the teeth were still intact. After the group completed excavating the bones, each vertebra was covered in burlap and coated in plaster, followed by a transfer to the offices of The Black Hills Institute where preparators began to clean the bones.

Dispute and auction

Soon after the remains were found, a dispute arose over who was the legal owner of the bones. The Black Hills Institute had obtained permission from the owner of the land, Maurice Williams, to excavate and remove the skeleton, and had, according to Larson, paid Williams $5,000 for the remains. [ Cherry, Miriam: [ A T-Rex Named Sue] , Retrieved on April 09, 2007] But Williams later claimed that the money had not been for the sale of the fossil and that he had only allowed Larson to remove and clean the fossil for a later sale. Williams, however, was a member of the Sioux tribe, and the tribe claimed the bones belonged to them. However, the property that the fossil had been found within was held in trust by the United States Department of the Interior . Thus, the land technically belonged to the government. In 1992, the FBI and the National Guard raided the site where The Black Hills Institute had been cleaning the bones and seized the fossil. [ Cataldo, Rosie: [ Digging for dollars] , Retrieved on April 09, 2007] The government transferred the remains to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where it was stored until the legal dispute was settled. After a lengthy trial, the court decided that Maurice Williams retained ownership, and the remains were returned in 1995. Williams then decided to sell the remains, and contracted with Sotheby's to auction the property. Many were then worried that the fossil would end up in a private collection where people would not be able to observe it. [ Monastersky, Richard: [ For the Sake of Sue] , Retrieved on December 06, 2007] [ Poling, Jeff: [ Reserving “Sue”] , Retrieved on December 06, 2007] The Field Museum in Chicago was also concerned about this possibility, and decided to attempt to purchase Sue. However, the organization realized that they might have had difficulty securing funding and decided to request that companies and private citizens provide financial support. The California State University system, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, McDonald's, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and individual donors agreed to assist in purchasing Sue for The Field Museum. On October 4, 1997, the auction began at $500,000; less than ten minutes later, The Field Museum had purchased the remains with the highest bid of $8,362,500. The winning bid was $7.6 million before Sotheby's commission. [cite book|author=Steve Fiffer|year=2000|title=Tyrannosaurus Sue|publisher=W. H. Freeman and Company, New York|id=ISBN 0-7167-4017-6 Chapter 12 "Everything Changed that Day".]

Preparation and display

The Field Museum hired a specialized moving company, with experience in transporting delicate items, to move the bones to Chicago. The truck arrived at the museum in October 1997. A new research laboratory was created by the museum in order to provide the preservationists an area to clean the bones. Museum visitors were provided the opportunity to observe the preservation efforts through glass windows. Footage of the work was also put on the museum’s website. Several of the fossil’s bones had never been discovered, so the preservation and display preparation personnel produced models of the missing bones from plastic to complete the exhibit. The modeled bones were colored in a reddish hue so that visitors could observe which bones were real and which bones were modern estimations. The preservationists also created several copies of each bone. One set of the casts was sent to Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida to be presented for public display. Two other copies were placed into a traveling tour that was sponsored by the McDonald's Corporation.

As preparators cleaned and prepared the bones, the museum's research paleontologists began to study the fossilized remains. In addition to measuring and photographing each bone, the group also CT scanned select specimens. The skull was too large to fit into a medical CT scanner, so Boeing’s Rocketdyne laboratory in California agreed to let the museum use their CT scanner that was normally used to observe space shuttle parts. [ Lee, William: [ Dissecting a Dinosaur Mummy] , Retrieved on January 02, 2008]

=Bone da

Close examination of the bones revealed that the dinosaur was of a uniquely old age at the time of death, and that it had received numerous injuries during its lifetime.Relf, Pat. "A Dinosaur Named Sue: The Story of the Colossal Fossil". 2000.] Multiple rib bones had been broken and subsequently healed, in addition to exhibiting signs of infection or disease. The examinations also revealed that during the dinosaur’s lifetime it experienced a broken fibula, multiple injuries to the skull, damaged vertebra of the tail, and a torn tendon on the right arm. The injured bones also exhibited scars and unusual bone growth, which indicates that the bones had healed, and that the dinosaur did not die as a result of any of these injuries.


After the bones were completely cleaned and repaired, work began on configuring the entire skeleton as a display. A steel frame was built to hold the bones in position, but the skull was too heavy to support with ease. Additionally, parts of the skull had been crushed and broken, and thus appeared distorted. The museum cast a mold of the skull, and altered the result approximately to how the original may have appeared. The cast was also lighter, and proved easier to place onto the display. The original skull was stored in a case that museum visitors are able to observe closely. When the whole skeleton was assembled, it was forty-two feet long from nose to tail, and twelve feet tall at the hips.

The Sue exhibit opened on May 17, 2000, with more than 10,000 visitors. [Hartman, Holly: [ Tyrannosaurus Sue] , Retrieved on April 09, 2007]

ee also

*Specimens of Tyrannosaurus
*Jane (dinosaur)


External links

* [ SUE at The Field Museum]
* [ Black Hills Institute of Geological Research]
* [ Dinosaurs: They Certainly Were Big] Humorous educational video about the dinosaur basics featuring Sue, and personally praised by paleontologist Sue Hendrickson [] .
* [ Volkan Yuksel's crosseyed 3D stereoview of Sue]

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