All About Sue
This is the story of SUE, the largest, most complete T. rex skeleton ever found.
Sue was a Tyrannosaurus rex that roamed North America about 67 million years ago, one of the last dinosaur species and one of the largest flesh-eaters to have ever inhabited the Earth. The “Tyrant Lizard King,” with its extraordinarily powerful jaws and massive serrated steak-knife teeth, still dominates popular perceptions of the Age of Dinosaurs.
Sue the T. rex is named for Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the dinosaur near Faith, South Dakota, during the summer of 1990 on a commercial fossil hunting trip. Shortly after its discovery, the fossil became the center of an intense ownership dispute. A protracted court battle ensued, and the court ruled that Sue belonged to the rancher on whose land she was discovered. The rancher decided to sell Sue at public auction.
On October 4, 1997, the auction took place at Sotheby’s auction house in New York. To ensure that Sue would be preserved for future generations of scientists and visitors, The Field Museum in Chicago purchased Sue for US$8.4 million. Field Museum preparators spent more than 30,000 hours preparing the more than 250 bones and teeth in Sue’s skeleton. After the bones were fully prepared, The Field Museum made exact, fully articulated replicas so that people around the world would have the opportunity to view and study Sue.
As the most complete T. rex specimen ever discovered, Sue has tremendous value for scientists and the general public. Previously, only a handful of partial T. rex specimens had been found, none more than 60% complete. At 90% complete and exquisitely preserved, Sue is the most celebrated member of its species, permitting more detailed studies of the biology, growth, and behavior of T. rex than had previously been possible.
© Field Museum
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