A closer look at T. rex
Sue’s vital statistics
Scientific name: Tyrannosaurus rex (From the Greek and Latin for “tyrant lizard king”)
Roamed the Earth in: Late Cretaceous Period, 67 million years ago
Range: Western North America
Length: 42 feet
Height at hips: 13 feet
Estimated live weight: 7 tons
Age: In 29th year at death.
Weight of skull: 600 pounds
Length of skull: 5 feet
Size of brain cavity: Just big enough to hold a quart of milk
Number of teeth: 58
Length of teeth: 7 1/2 to 12 inches
How well do you know your dinosaur pop culture?
1. What was the name of Alley Oop’s pet dinosaur?
2: In the television cartoon The Flintstones, Fred worked in a quarry where all the machines were really prehistoric animals. What kind of dinosaur did he use to lift rocks out of the quarry?
3: What was the name of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel that took place during World War I on an island inhabited by dinosaurs and prehistoric people?
a) “The Land before Time”
b) “The Land of the Lost”
c) “The Land that Time Forgot”
4: What animated film features dinosaurs parading to the music of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring?”
a) “The Land before Time”
b) “Gertie the Dinosaur”
5. Of the six dinosaurs featured in the movie “Jurassic Park,” how many actually lived during the Jurassic Period?
Answers: 1. a, 2. a., 3. c, 4. c, 5. b (Brachiosaurus and Dilophosaurus were the only two from the Jurassic. The T. rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor and Gallimimus all lived in the next period – the Cretaceous.)
• Big Sue – Not only is Sue the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, but Sue is also the oldest and most robust. Sue was 29 at the time of death. New research published by a team of scientists in 2004 revealed that as Sue aged, new layers of bone were deposited. The robustness of Sue’s bones is due to growth through a long life.
• Tooth regeneration – Sue’s razor-sharp teeth regenerated throughout life. Look for Sue’s missing teeth as well as the ones that were still growing.
• Skull holes – Scientists are still puzzled by the holes in Sue’s jaw. No new research has come to light on the function of these gaps.
• Forearm theories – Scientists still don’t understand how T. rex used its powerfully built but short forearms. They speculate that T. rex used them in food acquisition, either through predation or scavenging, or possibly during mating.
• Pathologies/Geriatric Sue – Fused vertebrae, broken ribs, extra bony growth. Sue was a mess. Scientists know that a big event happened to the right side of Sue’s body. There is damage to the right side of Sue’s skull, and right shoulder, and three broken ribs. The result of this damage is extra bony growth. Look for the growth on Sue’s ribs; it’s visible to the naked eye.