NORMAN -  It's the biggest, the baddest, the Mother of all Cretaceous carnivores. It's "A T. rex Named Sue," a special exhibition featuring the world's largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex, rampaging into Norman this spring.  The exhibition, created by The Field Museum in Chicago, will be appearing at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History May 6 through July 30. 

"Sue" was named after Sue Hendrickson, the fossil hunter who found the skeleton in South Dakota in 1990. The actual gender of the specimen is unknown. What is known is that it is one of the largest, if not the largest, of its kind ever discovered. Measuring 42 feet in length and 13 feet tall at the hip, "Sue," whatever its gender, was one BIG predator.  Imagine a creature whose hips stand three feet taller and whose tail extends three feet longer than a school bus, a creature weighing more than 6 tons that nevertheless can travel up to 14 feet in a single stride, with teeth up to a foot long, an appetite like a team of oilpatch roustabouts, and, very likely, a nasty attitude.

Sue is also the most complete T. rex specimen ever found - about 90 percent complete, in fact, which has been an enormous boon to scientists who study the life and times of T. rex and other dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous Period.  Sue lived about 67 million years ago - and lived hard.  The skeleton shows signs of multiple injuries and ailments, including a healed infection in the jaw, fused vertebra in the tail, ribs that had been broken and healed, and signs of arthritis.  At 28 years old, Sue was a tough survivor, and likely died of natural causes. Scientists estimate that T. rex would have lived a maximum of about 30 years. 

Sue is famous not only for the size and completeness of the skeleton itself, but also for the very public debate that the specimen engendered over ownership of fossils, as well as for the hefty price it fetched when it was finally sold at auction.  After a lengthy legal debate as to the ownership of the specimen, The Field Museum, with assistance from McDonald's Corporation and Walt Disney World Resort, paid $8.36 million to add Sue to its permanent collection in 1997.  The original skeleton is on permanent display in the Field Museum in Chicago.

The centerpiece of the traveling exhibition is a complete articulated replica of Sue's skeleton.  Additional components of the exhibit include a number of interactive displays that will allow visitors to get a sense of how T. rex moved, fed, scented prey and used its famously diminutive forelimbs.  The exhibit includes a full-scale eye-level replica of Sue's skull, with touchable models of Sue's enormous teeth - some 12 inches in length. Two videos examine how popular culture images of T. rex have changed over time, and provide insight into how scientists have used CT images of Sue's skull to learn more about what was inside a T. rex head.

"A T. rex Named Sue" is certainly the most exciting special exhibition we have offered since opening the new facility," said Ellen Censky, museum director. "Sue is an absolutely stunning specimen, with both a very broad appeal and real scientific significance. The exhibit will not be touring much longer, and is not scheduled to return to this part of the country. We are excited to be able to bring Sue to Oklahoma."

"A T. rex Named Sue" was created by The Field Museum, Chicago, and made possible through the generosity of McDonald's Corporation. Local exhibition of Sue is made possible by The Inasmuch Foundation and The Noble Corporation.  Media sponsors are CNHI Oklahoma, Cox Communications, KRXO/KMGL and Lamar Outdoor Advertising.

The museum is located on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus at 2401 Chautauqua Avenue. Additional information about the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is available on the museum's Web site:  www.snomnh.ou.edu or by phoning (405) 325-4712.

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