BROWN: Field Museum ditches SUE for hot new model

SUE the dinosaur is special, we were told.

“The largest, most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered,” was the boast that remains true to this day.

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.

The Argentinian folks were nice enough to sell us a copy of theirs. They sold the first copy to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which put it on display more than a year ago.

How special.

Or should I say: That’s show business.

It’s no real secret why the folks who run The Field Museum succumbed to the 17-year-itch and cast aside the old girl.

Museums run on money. They need visitors. To attract visitors, they constantly must evolve and change, offer something new.

Even as Field officials tried to explain how SUE will be better off with a new, more scientifically accurate depiction on the second floor as part of its Evolving Planet exhibit, the museum’s main attraction of the moment is Jurassic World, a traveling Hollywood version of dinosaur life based on the movie.

William Simpson, a Field Museum paleontologist, said he is excited by the opportunity to move SUE, the museum’s famed T-rex, into a new, smaller exhibit space on the second floor. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

With its kid-friendly animatronics and pseudo-science about recreating dinosaurs with DNA taken from mosquitoes, Jurassic…

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