In my April 29, 2019 post, Big Bone Business on eBay, I noted that the fossilized skeleton of a baby Tyrannosaurus rex was for sale on eBay for $2.95 million. The seller recently ended the auction–apparently no takers. Should they repost the offering please do humankind and science a favor: buy it and have it shipped directly to a natural history museum. On the eBay posting, the seller hyped the auction with some cock and bull about not wanting this treasure to fall into the hands of a museum, which “has limited opening hours and might be prohibitively expensive for some to visit”. Rather, the seller stated, “Once put ONLINE, the entire World can enjoy it 24/7/365.” OK, give it to a museum while stipulating that the museum posts the images online. Then everybody can enjoy the photos, and interested paleontologists can access the real deal for close study.
Only 20 relatively intact sets of T rex stone bones exist overall, and there is recent good news about several Tyrannosaurus specimens that are safely ensconced for scientific study and public awe.
Sue, the most intact specimen found to date, is about 90% complete and continues to terrify and delight museum goers at the Field Museum in Chicago. Since December she resides in the Museum’s new Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet and is now positioned in a less crouched and more aggressive position than before. Because her supporting armature allows temporary removal of any of her bones individually for intense study, a generation of paleontologists has learned much about T rex’s posture and movement and has even estimated her body weight.
Opening with much anticipation and fanfare on June 8, the David H. Koch Hall of Fossils at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, displays “The Nation’s T Rex“. It is posed to soon devour a hapless Triceratops. This T rex is on 50-year lease from the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns it since the fossils were discovered on federal land in Montana.
A few months earlier came a full scientific description of Scotty, a T rex originally discovered in 1991, the year after Sue surfaced. Full-scale excavation of Scotty began in 1994 and proceeded slowly because of the extremely dense rock encasing the specimen. This and other difficulties delayed the publication of a complete analysis until now. Investigators estimate that Scotty lived into his early 30’s (extremely long for a dinosaur) and, based on the length and girth of his bones, stretched 40 feet from snout to tail tip and might have slightly outweighed Sue. I doubt, however, that either one obsessed much over their weight. A full-scale replica of Scotty recently went on display at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina, near its discovery site.
In addition to nicknames such as Sue and Scotty, other T rex specimens sport monikers such as Stan, Bucky, Tristan, and Trix, although the sex of any dinosaur has yet to be determined. Supposing Sue was actually male, I wonder if his name predisposed him to bar fights a la Shel Silverstein and Johnny Cash? If so, what do you think the bar bullies had been drinking? Who do you think would have won?