02 October 2008

Workin' on a T. rex

There are no bones about it, the Brachiosaurus that composes the Oldengate Bridge and the Tyrannosaurus rex that guards the entrance to Dinosaur are imposing figures. However, after a little digging, guests are surprised to find out that these two fossils were actually cast straight from the original bones of these magnificent creatures.

Both the Brachiosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus rex cast come from the Field Museum in Chicago. The Brachiosaurus comes to us from the late Jurassic period (156 – 145 million years ago) and was discovered in the year 1900 in Colorado. The T. rex, on the other hand, can be found in the late Cretaceous period (85 – 65 million years ago, though this specimen is specifically from 67 – 65 million years ago) or right about the time your Time Rover lands and the asteroid’s impact is imminent. It survived almost entirely intact for millions of years only to be discovered by Sue Hendrickson in the Hell Creek Formation, South Dakota on August 12, 1990.

If the name Sue and Tyrannosaurus rex in the same sentence seems familiar, there’s a reason for that; the model for the Dinoland replica is named Sue. That’s right, this daunting dino is one of the most scientifically significant specimens ever collected. Sue has set new records for length and estimated weight of the T. rex species, at ninety-percent intact Sue is the most complete example ever unearthed, and Sue was so well-preserved that fine surface details are still visible. As for whether or not Sue is, in fact, a girl will have to wait. Since only twenty-two Tyrannosaurus rexes of appropriate completeness have been found, none have been able to be positively identified as male or female, as a much larger sample size would be needed to conclude what makes a T. rex male or female. However, if the day should come that we find out Sue is a male, well, I guess the Field Museum will have to become quick fans of Johnny Cash.

Oh, and one more tie that binds the Field Museum and Dinoland U.S.A., the Sue exhibit at the Field Museum is sponsored by both Walt Disney World and McDonald’s, the current sponsor of Dinoland U.S.A.

1 comment:

bigbrian-nc.com said...

when the touring exhibit form the Field museum came through Charlotte I caught it at Discovery Place, I DID know and remember the Disney connection unfortunately I didn't bring my camera with me or it would have made another nice post for the "Disney, Carolina" series on my blog