Seriously, it’s going to be sweet.
All right, mammals. At noon on February 5th, 2018, The Field Museum will begin removing me, SUE the T. rex, from Stanley Field Hall. I will be moving upstairs to a private suite in The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, where you can see me starting in spring 2019. Along with the move upstairs, my mounting will be updated to account for new scientific discoveries since I first arrived at the Museum in 2000.
My human caretakers will start on Monday by removing my feet and the tip of my tail, and they’ll continue the disassembly throughout the month of February, with The Field Museum offering free admission all month for Illinois residents. All my “enSUEsiasts” are invited to come and say a (temporary) goodbye to the largest and most complete specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered while my private suite is being prepared. During this time, guests will be able to peek through the windows in my enclosure and see the progress themselves. Offerings of ham are not required, but graciously accepted.
When I make my dramatic re-entrance in new accommodations in Evolving Planet, visitors may notice some new updates. The most dramatic scientific change to my glorious carcass will be my reunion with my precious gastralia—a set of bones that look like an additional set of ribs stretched across my belly. Gastralia are rarely preserved in my species, and scientists weren’t quite sure how to position them when my skeleton was first mounted in 2000. Since then a lot of crazy stuff has happened, not the least of which is my scientist pals may have figured out what my gastralia are for. Yes, I just ended a sentence with a preposition. I’m very, very dead; just be impressed I’m able to dictate this.
Gastralia are also present in ancient crocodile relatives and likely originally developed as a means of defense—a kind of “Mesozoic kevlar” for our tummies. But for us dinosaurs, they may have helped us breathe. Dinosaurs had lungs comprised of an intricate network of airsacs. Instead of having a weird “diaphragm” like you puny mammals have to push air in and out your lungs, we had a sweet set of gastralia to help do it for us.
And it will be a different look for me. “T. rex had a bulging belly,” (HEY!) “—it wasn’t sleek and gazelle-like the way you might think from looking at SUE now without their gastralia,” explains Associate Curator of Dinosaurs (and my good pal) Pete Makovicky. “We’ll also update their body stance, so SUE will be walking rather than skulking, the arms will come down a little, and we’ll readjust their wishbone.”
Another change to note: since my original unveiling 18 years ago, scientific opinion on determining the sex of tyrannosaurs has lacked sufficient data. As such, I would like to state that my preferred pronouns are “they/them” to refer to me in the third person. As in, “SUE is a T. rex. They are a majestic murderbird, and Chicago is lucky they grace the city with their presence.”
Despite me missing from public view, I will maintain my presence on social media, especially on Twitter at @SUEtheTrex. I have quite a few adventures lined up while my new home’s under construction; you can keep track of my goings-on with the hashtag “#SUEOnTheMove.”
The de-installation will make way for a cast of a titanosaur, a 122-foot-long Patagotitan mayorum from Argentina to arrive by June of 2018. Other changes coming to Stanley Field Hall include a flock of pterosaurs and giant hanging gardens—shout-out to Ken Griffin for these renos, as well as my sweet new digs.
In closing: come check me out while some human mammal types carefully take me apart, starting with my feet, for a move on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky at a press event from 12-2pm on Monday, February 5th. If you’re a reporter planning on coming by on the 5th, please get in touch with the PR team (firstname.lastname@example.org or 312.665.7100).
And if you or anyone reading this knows Jeff Goldblum, please make sure he sees this. Thank you.