National Geographic : 2000 Jun
HE T. REX IS BEGINNING TO RISE. ITS HEAD AND MASSIVE NECK CAUGHT IN STARTLED MID-SWING-flashingly lit by a metal worker's sparks and the leaping light from a blacksmith's forge, the thing seems almost to breathe. A fine art foundry outside Trenton, New Jersey, is not a likely place to find what is probably the world's most famous dino saur fossil. But here, in a building protected from the hustle of modern life by razor-wire fences and a state-of-the-art security system, is "Sue," the Tyrannosaurusrex fossil purchased at auction by Chicago's Field Museum in 1997. For the first time in some 67 million years, it is standing upright. The building is home to Phil Fraley Productions Inc., among the world's premier creators of museum exhibits. In the midst of the hubbub, talking over the din of metalworkers creating an elegant and almost invis ible armature to support the Sue skeleton, is Fraley himself. A solid man in his 40s, with the soul of an artist and the physique of the college football player he once was, Fraley is watching and considering every aspect of the armature's fabrication: fretting about the pitch and angle of Sue's hips ("We have to be most careful with the hips," he says, "since everything else on a T rex relates to them"), wondering if some steelwork will be unnec essarily visible, pondering the angle of Sue's enormous birdlike foot.