Off the Record

"I admit to being somewhat amused when I read that the Tyrannosaurus rex discovered a decade ago was named SUE. Yes, I heard my share of Old Sue jokes. After all, she was 67 million years old at the time, and I was pushin' 40. Since then, I haven't thought much about a T.REX NAMED SUE. Who, by the way, was named after Sue Hendrickson...part of the commercial fossil hunting team that unearthed Sue in Faith, S.D. in 1990. Naturally, an ownership dispute ensued over SUE. After a lengthy legal battle, SUE was handed over to the rancher on whose land she was discovered. No surprise that he didn't want her. After all, what's a guy gonna' do with a 42-foot long-in-the-tooth broad? Build a three-dinosaur garage?In October of 1997, SUE went on the auction block at Sotheby's in New York City. The Field Museum in Chicago purchased SUE for $8.4 million dollars, preserving her for future generations of scientists and visitors. I wasn't aware of SUE'S whereabouts until I visited Chicago recently. Having been to the Windy City 20 years ago, I knew a return visit to The Field Museum was a must. When I read that SUE was living there, I set aside a morning to visit her. SUE'S bio is impressive. Not only is she the largest, most complete and best Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered, she's pretty darn cute. And the hype over her relocation to The Field Museum matches her stature: big and bold. Huge SUE banners adorn the outside of the museum, and when she was unveiled to the public on May 17, 2000, the sentiment was straightforward: SUE RULES!I bet Barney's not a happy dino.And I didn't raise an eyebrow when I read that McDonald's was one of the sponsors of the SUE exhibition. After all, Tyrannosaurus rex is the largest meat eater to have roamed the United States. That's a lot of Happy Meals. As I read SUE'S statistics, I began to wonder if we had anything in common besides our monikers. Take a look at SUE vs. be the judge.LENGTH:SUE: 42 feetsue: 5 feet, 7 inchesHEIGHT AT HIPS:SUE: 12 feet as mountedsue: Varies if sitting or standingWEIGHT:SUE: 7 tons when alive sue: 145 pounds on driver's licenseLENGTH OF SKULL:SUE: Approximately 5 feetsue: Depends on hairstyleNUMBER OF TEETH:SUE: 58 (55 recovered in her fossilized remains)Sue: 24 (4 wisdom and 2 regular teeth removed)TIME:SUE: Late Cretaceous Period (67-65 million years ago)sue: Harry S. Truman Period (nearly 50 years ago)DISCOVERED:SUE: Hell Creek Formation of Western South Dakota on August 12, 1990 (Leo). Took six fossil hunters 17 days to get her out of the ground.sue: Arlington General Hospital, Arlington, Washington on Feb. 5, 1951 (Aquarian). Pre camcorder days, no record of labor or delivery.CURRENT STATUS:SUE: Was found with most of her 321 bones. Missing most of one foot, one arm, a few ribs and vertebrae, along with other small bones.Sue: Born with 350 bones. Missing tonsils, four wisdom teeth plus two others. Suffered a broken right ankle; torn cartilage and ligaments in left knee. Vision and hearing fading.FUTURE PLANS:SUE: To hold court at The Field Museum in Chicago. After all, there's a McDonald's downstairs!sue: To invite SUE to her 50th birthday party next year, with Frank Sinatra singing, You Make Me Feel So Young.Sue Frause can be reached by e-mail at "

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