SUE the Tyrannosaurus rex is going to get her own “throne room” to make way for an even bigger dinosaur at Chicago’s Field Museum, along with a makeover.
The Field Museum of Chicago has announced they will move SUE to make space for a cast skeleton of a titanosaur — specifically Patagotitan mayorum, a plant-eating long-necked Argentinian dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period that measures 122 feet long to the tip of its tail. The titanosaur lived 100 million years ago along with others of its kind, more than 30 million years prior to T. rex, according to Reuters.
The titanosaur’s display means a move for the Field Museum’s famous T. rex. SUE has to change quarters, a move that has led to no small amount of snark from the T. rex’s Twitter account. The current official name for @SUEtheTrex is now “Private Suite Haver” and she is officially quoted in the Field Museum press release.
“For years now, I’ve been pitching this to the museum,” SUE is quoted as “saying.” “A room with a better defensible position against Velociraptor attacks and reduced exposure to possible meteorite collisions. Finally, the mammals in charge have come to their senses.”
SUE — intentionally in all caps, according to the museum, and named after the paleontologist who discovered her — is the largest, most complete and best-preserved T. rex ever found, according to the museum. On display since 2000, SUE was reconstructed with nearly 90 percent of her bones intact.
However, SUE has been incomplete. Her gastralia — essentially a second set of ribs — were not added to her skeleton when she was mounted because scientists didn’t know how to position them. Further research has clarified their likely placement, and they will be added when SUE is moved to her new gallery in “Evolving Planet,” the permanent exhibition tracing the story of life’s progression on Earth.
She’s also going to get her wishbone back, museum officials said.
The titanosaur is the largest dinosaur yet discovered, according to Hilary Hansen, senior exhibitions project manager for the Field Museum.
“Having such a gigantic dinosaur in this space is going to be a very cool exciting experience for visitors to get pumped up as they enter the museum,” said Aimee Davis, public learning administrator.
The titanosaur weighed about 70 tons, and will be so tall that its head will peek over the second-floor balcony in Stanley Field Hall. It will be a cast of the real skeleton unearthed in South America in 2014, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The SUE Twitter account has been snarking back at questions ever since the announcement went out Wednesday. The Chicago Sun-Times used the Twitter lead, “Sue no longer getting top billing.” She replied, “A: It’s SUE, pronounced as if you’re pursued by a 42-foot-long murderbird. B: I GET A SPECIAL THRONE ROOM.”
One user asked if SUE will be able to put up pictures of “Jurassic Park” actor Jeff Goldblum in her new room. “My Jeff shrine is a private and deeply real thing. Not for public consumption,” she replied.
Several users suggested SUE should run for governor, while others said it’s good that she’ll be moved somewhere “more SUEtable.”
And when someone asked if they couldn’t keep SUE in the main hall, she replied, “Don’t deny me this. The elephants snore at night.”
SUE will be removed in February 2018, and unveiled approximately a year later in the spring 2019. Her move is being funded by a $16.5 million gift from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund.
The titanosaur, however, will appear only a month after SUE’s removal — likely in late spring 2018, just in time for the museum’s 125th anniversary. The skeleton cast will be made of fiberglass, and visitors will actually be able to touch it — and take selfies with it.
Facts about SUE
- She weighed nearly seven tons in life and was approximately 28 years old when she died, the upper range of known T.rex life expectancy.
- The olfactory lobes in her skull were the size of grapefruits, which means her sense of smell was extremely keen.
- Her teeth were sharp, serrated and up to a foot long.
- She was purchased at auction for $8.36 million, the largest amount ever paid for a fossil.
- SUE was still encased in rock when she arrived at the Field Museum, which constructed a glass — enclosed fossil preparation laboratory so museum visitors could watch paleontologists clean and repair the fossil, removing nearly three tons of rock over two years before she could be reconstructed and displayed.
- She was discovered in South Dakota in 1990. (Her Twitter account insists, “I just work in Illinois.”)
- The skull on display in Stanley Field Hall is not SUE’s real skull. The full skeleton cannot support the 600 — pound skull, so the real skeleton has a replica — cast skull. The real skull is in a separate case on the mezzanine.