“The Field Museum to Move SUE, Display Biggest Dinosaur Ever Discovered as Part of 125th Anniversary Celebrations” by S.M. O’Connor

In one of the largest private gifts ever to a Chicago museum, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex yet discovered, SUE, will be remounted in a more scientifically accurate way and move upstairs from Stanley Field Hall to the exhibit The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet. Meanwhile, a touchable cast of the biggest dinosaur yet discovered, Patagotitan mayorum, will be installed in Stanley Field Hall, as part of The Field Museum’s 125th anniversary celebrations, thanks to a $16,500,000 gift from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Trust.

“The Field Museum’s never-ending goal is to offer the best possible dinosaur experiences. Ken Grffin’s lomg-time support is a major step forward in achievening that goal,” stated Richard Lariviere, President of The Field Museum of Natural History.  “With this extraordinary gift from ken, we’ll be able to create a more scientifrically accurately and engaging homne for SUE the T red and welcome the world’s largest dinosaur to the Field.”

The cast made from the fossilized bones of Patagotitan mayorum (pronounced pat-uh-go-tie-tan my-or-um) will be installed near the African Elephant Group by Carl Ethan Akeley (1864-1926).  The Patagotitan mayorum was a colossal, long-necked herbivore found in modern Argentina.  From snout to tail tip, the cast streches 122 feet in length.  This is longer than two accordian Chicago Transit Authority (C.T.A.) buses would be if they were parked end-to-end.  The head will be twenty-eight feet off the floor.  The cast is so tall that a visitor standing on The Field Museum’s secnd-floor balcony will be able to come eye-to-eye with it.

The Patagotitan mayorum cast at The Field Museum will be mounted differently from the one at The Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  The neck of The Field Museum’s Patagotitan mayorum cast will be extended higher off the floor.  It will also be different because it will be in one room, Stanley Field Hall, instead of being stretched out over two rooms.

A living Patagotitan mayorum probbaly weighed in the neighborhood of seventy tons.  By comparison, SUE is forty-two-feet-long and when she lived she probably weighed around nine tons.

The Patagotitan mayorum the was the sole known species of genus Patagotitan of titanosaurian sauropods.  Sauropods were quadripedal herbivors with small heads (relative the overall size of their bodies), long necks, and long tails.

José Carballido and Diego Pol led the team that discovered the Patagotitan mayorum in Chubut Province in Patagonia, Argentina.  They announced the discovery in 2017 and named the beast in 2017. Carballido and Pol copined the term Patagotitan as a portmonteau of Patagonia and Titan.  The Titans were gigantic gods in Greek mythology who were older than the gods of Olympus, and whom the gods of Olympus had to defeat.  [Many scholars believe this story reflects a memory of people who entered Greece having conquered another people already present.]  Mayoram is a reference to the ranching family who hosted the paleontologists.

Stanley Field Hall_temp working draft_not for releaseFigure 1 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of what the Patagotitan mayorum will look with the African Elephant Group by Carl Ethan Akeley (1864-1926) in The Field Museum of Natural History’s Stanley Field Hall.

The Patagotitan mayorum cast will be the only one in the world that visitors are able to touch and only the second cast in the world on display.  “Patagotitan is huge, and it’ll look right at home in Stanley Field Hall,” said Senior Exhibitions Project Manager Hilary Hansen.  “It’s a big, majestic space, which will be perfect backdrop for the world’s largest dinosaur.”

In February of 2018, SUE will come down from her mount.  The next spring, she will be unveiled in Evolving Planet.  The Patagotitan mayorum cast skeleton will go up in Stanley Field Hall in spring of 2018.  By late spring, the cast will be on display.  Real Patagotitan mayorum fossils will be on display alongside the cast skeleton, one of which will be an eight-foot-long thighbone.

Visitor and PatagotitanFigure 2 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of a visitor and Patagotitan to convey the disparity in size.

Titanosaur femurFigure 3 Photo Credit: J. Farfaglia Caption: Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (M.E.F.) paleontologist Pablo Puerta lying down beside an eight-foot-long Titanosaur femur.  This photo is courtesy of M.E.F. via The Field Museum.

Titanosaur castFigure 4 Photo Credit: A. Otero Caption: Full, 122-foot-long cast of a Titanosaur skeleton in an airplane hangar in Argentina. This photo is courtesy of Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (M.E.F.) via The Field Museum.

Fossil Excavation

Figure 5 Photo Credit: A. Otero Caption: This is a scientist excavating a Titanosaur fossil in the field in Argentina.  This photo is courtesy of Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (M.E.F.) via The Field Museum.

Patagotitan fossil BTS at Field Museum

Figure 6 Photo Credit: © John Weinstein, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is Bill Simpson, Head of Geological Collections, looking over a real fossilized Titanosaur humerus at The Field Museum of Natural History. This real humerus fossil will be on display alongside the skeleton cast.

Patagotitan fossil BTS at Field Museum (1)

Figure 7 Photo Credit: © John Weinstein, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a real fossilized Titanosaur humerus at The Field Museum of Natural History that will be on display alongside the skeleton cast.

3. Sue with SUE

Figure 8 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: Fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson with SUE, the Tyrannosaurus rex fossilized skeleton she discovered in 1990.

Gastralia 2Figure 9 Photo Credit: © Zachary James Johnston, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: SUE’s gastralia on display in the exhibit Evolving Planet.

Gastralia & SUE 2Figure 10 Photo Credit: © Zachary James Johnston, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: Field Museum scientists Pete Makovicky (left), Associate Curator of Dinosaurs, and Bill Simpson (right), Head of Geological Collections, examine a cast of one of SUE’s gastralia.

Gastralia & SUE

Figure 11 Photo Credit: © Zachary James Johnston, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: Field Museum scientists Pete Makovicky (left), Associate Curator of Dinosaurs, and Bill Simpson, Head of Geological Collections, use a cast of one of SUE’s gastralia to show where they will be positioned on her skeleton.

In a press release, The Field Museum stated, “SUE the T. rex will be revamped with scientific updates and will move on up from Stanley Field Hall to the Museum’s most popular permanent exhibition, “The Griffin Hall of Evolving Planet.  The exhibition, which traces life from its origin to today, is home to a legion of dinosaurs ranging from tiny, birdlike Buitreraptor to 72-foot long Apatosaurus.  A whole new gallery will be added to the dinosaur section of Evolving Planet to showcase SUE and tell the story of her life on Earth.  The new exhibition space, which will span around 5,800 square feet, is expected to feature cutting-edge multimedia technology, digital interactives, and fossils discovered alongside SUE that illustrate the world she lived in – all in all, says Hansen, a state-of-the-art experience worthy of SUE.”

“At 42 feet long, she’s the world’s biggest T. rex, but in that giant hall, people sometimes remark that she’s smaller than they expected,” explained Ms. Hansen. “By putting her in her own gallery of our Evolving Planet exhibition, she’ll be put into the proper context of her fellow dinosaurs, and she’ll dominate the room.”

“In addition to getting a new space that showcases what an amazing specimen SUE is, we’ll be able to update the mount to reflect what we’ve learned about tyrannosaurs in the years since we first put her on display,” stated Dr. Peter (“Pete”) Makovicky, Associate Curator of Dinosaurs.  “It gives us a chance to tell a more story scientifically.”

In a press release, The Field Museum stated, “The most dramatic scientific change to SUE will be the addition of her gastralia – a set of bones that look like an additional set of ribs stretched across her belly.  Gastralia are rarely preserved in tyrannosaurs, and scientists weren’t quite sure how to position them when SUE’s skeleton was first mounted in 2000.  In the years since, research on SUE’s gastralia has illuminated their function and placement.”

Gastralia are also present in ancient crocodile relatives and likely originally developed as a means of defense – the network of bone protected the animals’ vulnerable bellies.  But for the dinosaurs, they probably had a different purpose: facilitating breathing.  Dinosaurs, like their modern bird relatives, had lungs comprised of an intricate network of airsacs.  And instead of having a muscular diaphragm to help push air in and out of their lungs like we do, they used the structural support provided by their gastralia to get the job done.

The addition of gastralia to SUE will change the way she looks.  “T. rex has a bulging belly – it wasn’t sleek and gazelle-like the way you might think from looking at SUE now without her gastralia,” Dr. Makovicky explicated.  “Well also update her body stance, so she’ll be walking rather than skulking, her arms will come down a little, and we’ll readjust her wishbone.”

SUE and SUE with gastraliaFigure 12 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of SUE as she looks now, SUE as she will look with gastralia, and a visitor (for size comparison).

Patagotitan SUE and visitor

 

Figure 13 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of the Patagotitan cast, SUE mounted with her gastralia, and a visitor standing in line (for size comparison).  Perhaps they’re in line at Starbucks.

Patagotitan SUE visitor 2

Figure 14 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of the Patagotitan cast, SUE mounted with her gastralia, and a visitor standing close together (for size comparison).

Titanosaur 1Figure 15 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of a visitor looking at the Patagotitan cast in Stanley Field Hall.  This is what it may look like to see someone viewing the Patagotitan cast from a vantage point inside a ground-floor gallery.

Titanosaur 3Figure 16 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of a visitor looking at the Patagotitan cast in Stanley Field Hall.  This next view is similar to the previous one but the vantage point this time inside Stanley Field Hall.

Titanosaur 2

Figure 17 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of a visitor looking at the Patagotitan cast in Stanley Field Hall.  Again, this is what it may look like to see someone viewing the Patagotitan cast from a vantage point inside a ground-floor gallery.  The Patagotitan mayorum the was the sole known species of genus Patagotitan of the clade Titanosauria.

Titanosaur and SUE 2

Figure 18 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of a visitor looking at the Patagotitan cast and SUE (mounted with her gastralia) in a way that will never happen in Stanley Field Hall.  The discoverers of the Patagotitan mayorum recently gave it that name.  Originally, the it was identified by its clade, as a Titanosaur.

Titanosaur and SUEFigure 19 Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a rendering of a visitor looking at the Patagotitan mayorum cast and SUE (mounted with her gastralia) in a way that will never happen in Stanley Field Hall.  The discoverers of the Patagotitan mayorum recently gave it that name.  Originally, the it was identified by its clade, as a Titanosaur.  Here, we see by exactly how many feet SUE will dwarf a man when her fossilized skeleton is re-mounted with her gastralia and the  Patagotitan mayorum cast will dwarf a man and would dwarf SUE if the three were lined up as if the man was a traffic warden.

 

In a press release, The Field Museum stated, “SUE’s renovation and Patagotitan’s arrival are possible thanks to the continued support of Ken Griffin, whose gift of $16.5 million to create ground-breaking dinosaur experiences to the next level.  Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, set a new standard for the Field’s exhibitions in 2006 with his support for Evolving Planet, and is providing funding for the 2018 exhibition Antarctic Dinosaurs and accompanying dinosaur education programs.”  In a parallel press release, The Field Museum stated, “Ken Griffin is the founder and CEO of Citadel and a long-time supporter of The Field Museum.  He sponsored our permanent dinosaur and evolution exhibition, the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, which opened in 2006, and he’s supporting our renovation of Stanley Field Hall, as well as our Antarctic Dinosaurs exhibition, which will open in June 2018.  His generosity and commitment to making science available and accessible to the public is helping us continue to offer the best dinosaur experiences, and we’re extremely grateful to him!”

According to Forbes, Griffin is worth $8,500,000,000.  Griffin became a stock trader in 1987 while a student at Harvard University and added a satellite dish to the roof of his dorm to get real-time information.  Three years later, he founded Citadel, L.L.C., which today manages over $27,000,000,000 in assets.  He recently donated $12,000,000 to the Chicago Park District to divide the Lakefront Trail into separate walking and biking paths, as the Chicago Sun-Times related.

“The Field Museum has a huge impact on our ability to understand and appreciate dinosaurs.  I’m thrilled to partner with such an extraordinary institution to help put natural wonders like SUE and Patagotitan on display for the city of Chicago and its visitors,” stated Ken Griffin.

In response to a Field Museum tweet about Titanosaur statistics, movie star Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Jurassic World,), daughter of actor-director Ron Howard, tweeted, “The Titanosaur may be taking SUE’s current place in Stanley Field Hall, but the T. Rex remains top spot in my book!”[1]  Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown conceded that museums need to change to attract visitors but lamented that SUE, a real dinosaur fossil, will be moved upstairs to make way for a fiberglass model.

Her arrival in Chicago in May of 2000 breathed new life into The Field Museum, and in turn, made Chicago more special as the home of the world’s greatest dinosaur fossil.

Now we learn that SUE will be moved early next year from her position of honor on the museum’s main floor to make way for a new skeleton of an even larger dinosaur, Patagotitan mayorum, the largest known to man.

Except this new dinosaur, sometimes called a titanosaur, isn’t a fossil at all, but a fiberglass cast

A model, if you will.  A re-creation.  A composite pieced together from six different Patagotitan fossil specimens recovered in Argentina because they didn’t have even one as complete as Sue.

 

It may be especially difficult to young people who grew up with SUE in Stanley Field Hall to get used to the new look of the space.  Paleontologist William F. Simpsons, Head of Geological Collections, placed the changes in context. “I’ve worked at the Field since 1979, and I’ve seen Stanley Field Hall undergo a lot of changes in that time,” stated Simpson.  “When I started, we had a tyrannosaur in Stanley Field Hall, the Daspletosaurus that’s now in Evolving Planet.  In the mid-nineties, we replaced it with the brachiosaurus cast that’s now on the terrace outside the Museum, and in 2000 we welcomed SUE.  There’s always a lot of change in that space as we find new ways to share our science with the public.”  Concerning the fact that people may need some time to adjust to SUE’s new appearance, Simpson added, “That’s the way science works – we’re always making new discoveries.”

SFH 1Figure 20 Photo Credit: © Charles Carpenter, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a southward view of Stanley Field Hall with the staircases and statues Record and Dissemination of Knowledge by Henry Hering (1874-1949) visible at the far end, as it looked in 1920, the year The Field Museum of Natural History moved from the Palace of Fine Arts in Jackson Park into its new home in Burnham Park.  [The Palace of Fine Arts now houses the Museum of Science and Industry.]  The Field Museum of Natural History opened in its new home in 1921.

SFH 2Figure 21 Photo Credit: © Charles Carpenter, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is another southward view of Stanley Field Hall with the staircases and Hering’s statues visible at the far end, as it looked in 1929.  Here, we see three bronze sculptures of Lion Spearing in Africa by Carl Akeley, who was a sculptor as well as a taxidermist.

SFH 3Figure 22 Photo Credit: © The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a southward view of Stanley Field Hall, as it looked in 1945, with the staircases, Hering’s statues, and Akeley’s African Elephant Group visible at the far end.

SFH 4Figure 23 Photo Credit: © The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a southward view of Stanley Field Hall, as it looked in 1948, with the staircases and Hering’s statues visible in the deep background, a crowd in front of Akeley’s African Elephant Group in the center, and a penicillin exhibit in a glass in the foreground.

SFH 5Figure 24 Photo Credit: © The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a southward view of Stanley Field Hall, as it looked in 1968, with the staircases and Hering’s statues visible in the deep background, and a group of people gathered around a fountain in front of Akeley’s African Elephant Group in the center.  Note that there are two fast-moving people in the picture who appear blurry.  Those are not ghosts.

SFH 6Figure 25 Photo Credit: © James Balodimas, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a southward view of Stanley Field Hall, as seen in 1992, with a Gorgosaurus on display.  Later, it moved upstairs into the exhibit Life Over Time, which became Evolving Planet, where the dinosaur remains. Notice Akeley’s African Elephant Group in the background, as well as the staircases and Hering’s statues in the deep background.

SFH 7

Figure 26 Photo Credit: © John Weinstein, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: The Brachiosaurus cast on display in Stanley Field Hall in 1995, as viewed from the second floor balcony.  Notice the fountain in the center, Akeley’s African Elephant Group in the background, and the staircases and Hering’s statues so far in the background the statues are barely visible.

Sue in Stanley Field HallFigure 27 Photo Credit: © John Weinstein, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: SUE as she is currently mounted in Stanley Field Hall

SFHFigure 28 Photo Credit: © The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: SUE with Akeley’s African Elephant Group in Stanley Field Hall in The Field Museum of Natural History.

SFH 9Figure 29 Photo Credit: © John Weinstein, The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: SUE with Akeley’s African Elephant Group in Stanley Field Hall in The Field Museum of Natural History on President’s Day in 2010 (Monday, February 15, 2010).

Stanley Field Hall

Figure 30 Photo Caption: © The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: A northward view of Stanley Field Hall, with the Will Call desk in the foreground, Akeley’s African Elephant Group and SUE in the background, and Hering’s statue Science in the deep background.

Through SUE’s Twitter account (@SUEtheTrex), The Field Museum joked, “For years now, I’ve been pitching this to the Museum.  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 is the subject of at least half a dozen books and the documentary Dinosaur 13: The True Tale of one of the Greatest Discoveries in History (2014).  The 3D film Waking the T. rex 3D: The Story of SUE, which D3D Cinema and The Field Museum debuted at The Field Museum’s 3D Theater on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 and will play through Sunday, December 31, 2017. Ernst & Young, L.L.P. sponsors the 3D Theater.

ParasaulolophusFigure 31 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a Parasaulolophus fossilized skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet at The Field Museum of Natural History.

Dimetredon FrontFigure 32 Photo Credit: The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: This is a front view of the fossilized Dimetredon skeleton on display in the permanent exhibit Evolving Planet in The Field Museum of Natural History.

Pete & Nate in quarryFigure 33 Photo Credit: © The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: Paleontologists Peter (“Pete”) Makovicky, Ph.D., and Nathan (“Nate”) Smith, Ph.D., removing blocks of fossil-bearing rock containing Cryolophosaurus bones from Mount Kirkpatrick quarry during a 2010-2011 expedition in Antarctica.

Hanging load from helicopterFigure 34 Photo Credit: © The Field Museum of Natural History Caption: A helicopter is airlifting a fossil-bearing rock back to camp. The temporary exhibit Antarctic Dinosaurs will open at The Field Museum on June 15, 2015 and run through January 6, 2019.  Afterward, it will become a traveling exhibit.

The 7,500-square-foot temporary exhibit Antarctic Dinosaurs will open at The Field Museum on June 15, 2018 and run through January 6, 2019.  At that point, it will become a traveling exhibit.  The content specialists are Dr. Makovicky; Dr. Nathan D. Smith, Associate Curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County; and a group of scientists from Augustana College, the University of Washington, the University of Alberta, and the Iziko South African Museum.

On September 16, 1893, the Colombian Museum of Chicago incorporated, and on October 26, 1893, Marshall Field I (1834-1906) announced he would donate $1,000,000 to the project, provided that $500,000 in cash be raised from other sources and that $2,000,000 in World’s Columbian Exposition stock (then thought to be worth ten cents on the dollar) be donated, but he later waived these conditions.   The $8,000,000 bequest Marshall Field I left what was then called the Field Columbian Museum in his will was to be divided evenly into two funds: one allotment of $4,000,000 for erecting a new building to house the institution, and a second allotment of $4,000,000 would provide an endowment.   Stanley Field, Marshall Field I’s nephew, was the eponym of Stanley Field Hall, which was originally called Central Hall.  He was the third president of The Field Museum of Natural History.  It was he oversaw the move in 1920 from the organization’s first home, the Palace of Fine Arts (which now houses the Museum of Science and Industry) in Jackson Park to its new purposes-built home in Burnham Park.  He held the post from 1908 to 1964 and also gave The Field Museum $2,000,000.

The Field Museum is part of the Museum Campus with the John G. Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium at the northern end of Burnham Park.  The street address of The Field Museum is 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496.  The phone number is (312) 922-9410.

[1] The filmography of Bryce Dallas Howard also includes Spider-Man 3 (2007), Terminator Salvation (2009), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), Pete’s Dragon (2016), and Gold (2016).

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2 thoughts on ““The Field Museum to Move SUE, Display Biggest Dinosaur Ever Discovered as Part of 125th Anniversary Celebrations” by S.M. O’Connor

  1. My e-mail is at the bottom of the home page. Thank you. I appreciate your kind sentiments,

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