Sue as she may have looked The largest and best preserved specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex ever found was discovered in 1990 at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in western South Dakota, USA. It—we do not know whether it was male or female—was named “Sue” after Sue Hendrickson, the palaeontologist who found the fossil bones. Sue was 80% complete. Scientists believe that the T. rex was covered by water and mud very soon after death. This prevented scavenging animals from carrying away the bones. Discovering so much of a single skeleton means that we can find out a great deal about this dinosaur's anatomy and lifestyle. Sue is now on permanent display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.
From studying slices taken from Sue’s bones under a microscope to count the rings—like tree trunks, dinosaur bones grow by a layer each year—we can tell that Sue was 28 when she died: near the upper limit of her natural life-span, scientists believe. Sue’s skeleton is mounted for public display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. A special steel frame “cradles”...Read More >>Sue’s skeleton is mounted for public display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. A special steel frame “cradles” her bones. Sue’s real skull, which is too heavy for the mounted skeleton, is displayed in a separate case.
T. rex’s arm bones were tiny compared to the rest of its huge body. Analysis of Sue’s near-complete forelimb shows that her arm bones were massive and had great mechanical strength—perhaps useful for pinning her prey to the ground.
Sue's ribcage, showing damaged bonesStudies reveal that Sue suffered several broken ribs during her lifetime. Evidence from bumps on one of her ribs indicate that she broke it twice. Other injuries include a damaged shoulder blade and a torn tendon in the right arm. Scientists believe that these wounds all occurred at the same time—perhaps the result of an encounter with an Ankylosaurus's tail club. the fact that this damage healed indicates that Sue survived the incident.
A gash in the back of the skull was more likely to have been caused by trampling by other animals immediately after death. Bones that break after death show no bone growth and look like cracks.
The fossil Sue was sold in October 1997 for US $7.6 million, the highest amount ever paid for a dinosaur fossil. It is on permanent display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
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