National Geographic : 2000 Jun
he says. "They show Sue was a living animal once. It had injuries or diseases or infections that left it damaged. It shows that Sue is not only an example of T rex as a species but was an individual animal too-and one that spent its days with a backache." Just up the tabletop from the vertebrae sits a short, flattened bone about the shape and length of a beef rib you might find on a backyard barbecue grill. "This is one of the gastralia," Flynn says. "It's one of the belly'ribs,' from below the rib cage, closer to the pelvis. As we've prepared Sue, we've found about 70 percent of these-which is extremely high for 'I rex. Until we found these, nobody could say much about this part of its anatomy." Another intriguing find unearthed by the Sue preparation team is a stapes: a delicate six inch, piston-like rod of bone connecting the outer ear's tympanic membrane to the inner ear's auditory canals. Finding one of these in a T rex was a first. It may also help scientists locate 7: rex's position in evolution-and give an idea of how T rex heard the world around it. Near the edge of the table sits a thick and strikingly blue bone about the size of a large ice-cream cone. "That's a replicated toe bone," Simpson says. "It's a mirror-image model, made from the same bone on Sue's opposite foot." The blue toe bone-made of plastic will be sanded and painted a reddish brown before it's mounted into place. When Sue is finished, any bone that has been sculpted or cast will be painted this same reddish brown, to distinguish it from the deep brown of the true fossil bones. "People get a thrill seeing the real thing," Simpson says. "All of us like being close to an object that's 67 million years old, especially when it was once a gigantic animal that walked the Earth. We love being able to show this isn't a replica or a fragmentary specimen. This is the real animal, right before your eyes." And now, after 67 million years in obscurity, Sue the T. rex again towers above the Earth, commanding the attention of all below. ] For an insightful look at Sue's skull see the CT'scan at www. nationalgeographic.com/dinorama/sue.htil. inS the past yeagj * ee ha e h , s c a AmyLus W call th em Sue groupSes.*But Sue i Field ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ - M-eu ' prsdn."hsiS cetfctesuew'eol eu o drtn.