side-view of T. rex skull

Super Sue Meets Super Glue


    The glory that is Sue

picture of Sue in Chicago
Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex, on display
at the Field Museum in Chicago.

POSTED 8 JUNE 2000 You can see her new: Sue, the most complete and controversial Tyrannosaurus rex ever found is now basking in the light of fame at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. After years of legal battles and 36,000 hours of preparation, crowds are ogling the dino that, since her discovery in 1990, sparked jealousy, lawsuits and federal intervention. True, Sue was stunning enough, on her steel mounts. Call us nerds, but we Why Filers got to wondering: How do they remove ancient dinosaur fossils from the ground without wrecking them entirely? How do they mount fossils for public enjoyment -- without wrecking them for science?

The fundamental steps of fossil preparation have changed little since gung-ho dinosaur hunters roamed the range in the 1800s. First you unearth the fossils, then you extricate them from the matrix -- the rock sticking to them. Finally, you mount the best specimens for study and stand back for the oohs and aahs. The first thing we learned was that paleontologists are big-time borrowers: Dental picks were once a standard tool for cleaning bones. Now paleontologists borrow jackhammers and sand-blasters from the building biz.

Ouch! Say it ain't so!

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Photo [of Sue found in running headline and more button] by John Weinstein. Copyright The Field Museum.