Sue the T. Rex Skeleton Lends a Hand to Science | NBC New York
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Sue the T. Rex Skeleton Lends a Hand to Science

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Part of one of the Field Museum’s most well-known exhibits is being temporarily removed for the sake of science.

    Two museum scientists are removing the right forearm from Sue, the biggest Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

    “We’ll carefully disassemble Sue's right forelimb, and she’ll be a one-armed bandit for a few days,” Makovicky and McCarter Collections Manager of Fossil Vertebrates Bill Simpson said in a statement.

    Experts say Sue is the best-preserved and most complete T. rex in the world, making her “a treasure trove of information for paleontologists to learn from.”

    “One of the big mysteries about T. rex is its tiny forelimbs,” Pete Makovicky, associate curator of dinosaurs, said in a statement. “We don’t know how it used them. But there could be clues in the fossils.” 

    Makovicky believes the dinosaur’s bones could hold information on if the bones were fractured or broken and hopes scans can detail on what was inside the bones, giving them information on how much she used them. The scans and X-rays will be done at the Argonne National Laboratory.

    “These X-rays will give us a map of the blood vessels and muscle attachments in the bone, which have never been seen before,” Carmen Soriano, paleontologist and beamline scientist with the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne, said in a statement. “Thanks to these extreme brightness X-rays, we will be able to better understand the fine internal morphology of the skeleton, which will give us clues about how the arm could move and what it was used for.”

    But that’s not all.

    “It’s not just the use of her arm that we’ll learn about—there’s a spike on her upper arm bone where her triceps muscle was torn, and there are some pits on her knuckles that we might be able to learn more about,” Simpson said. “The possibilities are endless. Sue's the gift that keeps on giving.”