I don't know if all paleontologists have this, but I know I certainly do: a Paleo Bucket List. A list of fossils, localities, or rock units that are so famous and revolutionary to the field of paleontology, geology, and/or biology that one must gaze upon them just once to full appreciate them. I was finally able to hit up one of my bucket list items when I was in Chicago in 2016, and then again to see the updated mount in 2019:
Paleo Bucket List
SUE, the Tyrannosaurus rex
SUE (AKA FMNH PR 2081) is a difficult fossil to sum up quickly because so much has happened to her since she was discovered. And that's one of the reasons she has become a bucket list item, for her storied history.
|SUE the T. rex in the field as discovered by Sue Hendrickson. Image was taken at the Field Museum.|
SUE the T. rex was initially discovered by Sue Henderson, and named after her. After excavation, the fossil was determined to be 90% complete, far more complete than any other T. rex at the time and is still one of the most complete fossil T. rexes ever discovered. SUE was contentious because of where she was discovered and who owned the land that she was discovered on. In short, the Black Hills Institute (BHI) in South Dakota, of which Sue Hendrickson was a part of, discovered the T. rex on a ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation. A dispute erupted over the ownership of the fossil between the BHI, the rancher Maurice Williams, and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.
|Mount of SUE the T. rex in August of 2016|
|Mount of SUE the T. rex in August of 2016 from up above.|
Then in 2018, SUE got a new home within the museum. She now has her own special exhibit. I was able to visit the new home in April of 2019.
|Directions to SUE's new home within the Field Museum|
|SUE in her new home with lights capable of highlighting various portions of the skeleton during the automatic presentation that runs every few minutes.|
|SUE in her new home from the front. This space is a lot smaller, really emphasizing SUE's enormous size. |
|Look how happy she is in her new home|
|Forward view of the actual skull of SUE|
|A little more head-on view of the actual SUE skull|
|View of the left side of the actual SUE skull.|
|View of the remodeled SUE skull on the left side for comparison. |