The very first T. rex specimen was found in 1900. Since then, only seven skeletons that are more than half complete have been discovered. Of these, Sue is the largest, most complete, and best preserved T. rex ever unearthed.
Unlike many previous T. rex finds, most of Sue’s bones are in excellent condition and have a high degree of surface detail. Sixty-seven million years after her death, it is still possible to see fine details showing where muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues rested against or attached to the bone.
Field Museum staff spent 30,000 hours preparing the bones and teeth in Sue’s skeleton. They spent 3,500 hours on the skull alone.
After the bones were fully prepared, copies were made to allow people around the world the opportunity to study and view her. Exact copies of Sue’s bones were made with moulds of silicone rubber, reinforced with fibreglass.
Field Museum staff had to create ‘stand-ins’ for those bones that were missing. This was done in three ways: missing back bones were cast twice; computer generated moulds were used to recreate an arm; other bones were sculpted by hand using comparisons with other meat-eating dinosaurs.
In order for Sue to appear as she did in life, the specimen was mounted. A pose was created by the Field Museum’s staff and a specialised team of mounters. Then, a complex, custom-fitted steel cradle was created for each of Sue’s bones. Each of the bones can be removed for scientific study.
Sue’s completeness, combined with the exquisite preservation of the bones, makes her an invaluable scientific resource, permitting highly detailed study of T. rex anatomy and behaviour.