Field un­veils life-like model of T. rex Sue

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY CLARE PROC­TOR, STAFF RE­PORTER cproc­tor@sun­ | @ce­proc­tor23

For two decades, Sue has drawn di­nosaur lovers to the Field Mu­seum so they can catch a glimpse of the largest and most com­plete Tyran­nosaurus rex skele­ton ever dis­cov­ered.

Now, mu­se­um­go­ers can walk up to a life­size model of what Sue would have looked like when alive.

The 40-foot-long, 14-foot-tall “Sue in the Flesh” ex­hibit was un­veiled at the mu­seum’s Stan­ley Field Hall on Thurs­day. The life-size model promi­nently fea­tures a replica baby Ed­mon­tosaurus in its mouth. The Ed­mon­tosaurus was prob­a­bly a pop­u­lar part of a Tyran­nosaurus rex’s diet, ex­perts say.

“Sue in the Flesh” was cre­ated at Blue Rhino Stu­dio in Min­nesota and matches the ex­act di­men­sions and de­tails of Sue’s skele­tal coun­ter­part, in­clud­ing scars and scratches. Just above the di­nosaur’s left an­kle is a scar ex­perts guess caused a bone in­fec­tion and was the re­sult of Sue be­ing rammed by a Tricer­atops or bat­tered by the clubbed tail of an Anky­losaurus, said Bill Simp­son, head of ge­o­log­i­cal col­lec­tions at the mu­seum.

It’s still up for de­bate whether Sue would have had scaly skin or been cov­ered in feath­ers, but Simp­son said fos­sils that have been un­cov­ered lead ex­perts to imag­ine the di­nosaur with­out feath­ers.

Us­ing a minia­ture 3D print of Sue’s skele­ton, “Sue in the Flesh” took roughly a year to make, said Ben Miller, an ex­hi­bi­tion de­vel­oper at the Field Mu­seum. The model uses dense foam and a fiber­glass shell to bring the bones to life.

Miller saw the struc­ture as it was be­ing con­structed, but see­ing it in its com­plete form was an en­tirely dif­fer­ent way of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Sue, he said.

“It’s amaz­ing how big it is,” Miller said. “Its calf mus­cle is as big as I am.”

Me­gan and Ryan Hood brought their three chil­dren, ages 7, 5 and 2, to the Field Mu­seum Thurs­day be­cause it was on the fam­ily’s bucket list be­fore they move from their Sau­ganash


“It’s pretty in­cred­i­ble,” Me­gan Hood said. “It’s slightly graphic, but the kids are not as scared as I thought they would be.”

“Sue in the Flesh” will be at the Field Mu­seum un­til Aug. 17. Af­ter that, it’ll be shipped across the coun­try and world as a part of a trav­el­ing ex­hibit. Joseph Man­drell will travel with the crea­ture, set­ting it up in each new lo­ca­tion and dis­as­sem­bling it to move on to the next mu­seum, a process he said he an­tic­i­pates will take less than a day to com­plete.

“Sue looks fan­tas­tic here in the Stan­ley Field Hall,” Man­drell said. “But in some of the smaller venues, I think its pres­ence will be even more over­whelm­ing.”


ABOVE: The Field Mu­seum un­veiled “Sue in the Flesh” Thurs­day. RIGHT: Me­gan and Ryan Hood of Sau­ganash get a close look at “Sue in the Flesh” with their three chil­dren, ages 7, 5 and 2.

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