Dinosaur Discoveries in North America

Recent Discoveries in the United States

What famous dinosaur is nicknamed “Sue”?

“Sue” is the nickname given to the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton yet discovered. “Sue” represents almost 90 percent of the total skeleton, compared to the usual 40 to 50 percent of others found. This alone makes it an important specimen.

But the legal controversy surrounding the ownership of the bones made “Sue” a household name. The remains were found in 1990 by Sue Hendrickson, after whom it is named. Hendrickson came upon the fossilized bones while walking on a Cheyenne River Reservation ranch in South Dakota owned by Maurice Williams. The complete remains, eventually totaling 130 crates and boxes, were excavated by Peter Larson and associates of the Black Hills Institute. In 1992, a subsequent legal dispute over ownership of the bones led to an FBI raid on Larson’s museum to seize the remains, followed by a lengthy court battle. The case ended with Larson’s incarceration and the ownership of the bones awarded to Williams, who in turn decided to sell them at a public auction. In October 1997, the remains were auctioned by Sotheby’s, with the winning bid of $8.36 million submitted by the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History.

In May 2000, the Field Museum unveiled the completely restored permanent display of Sue, still considered the best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex yet discovered. And for those who are unable to visit Chicago, replicas were made, which tour across the United States and internationally. Another life-sized cast of Sue is on display at DinoLand U.S.A. at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida.


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