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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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T. rex makes return visit

Visitors Hazel and Colton Bird check out the life-size replica of Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex, on display until January at Mobius Science Center in Spokane. Sue’s 67 million-year-old skeleton was unearthed in South Dakota.
Visitors Hazel and Colton Bird check out the life-size replica of Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex, on display until January at Mobius Science Center in Spokane. Sue’s 67 million-year-old skeleton was unearthed in South Dakota.
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Important facts we know thanks in part to Sue, the Tyrannosaurus rex who might have been a girl:

• T. rex grew fast and died young, gaining about 8 pounds a day from ages 14 to 18 – ultimately hitting about 11,000 pounds. She died at 28, probably of natural causes. Her skeleton yielded evidence of disease, arthritis and broken bones, according to Field Museum in Chicago, where her remains are now housed.

• The “tyrant lizard king” (or queen) was a fast walker for a dinosaur, clocking in around 15 mph. Sue’s well-preserved foot bones offered important clues about her locomotion.

• T. rex had wishbones. For scientists, this provided evidence of the relationship between a group of two-legged dinosaurs and birds.

Spokane residents can see Sue – or rather a full-scale replica of her skeleton – in the traveling “A T. rex Named Sue” exhibit installed at Mobius Science Center in Spokane.

It’s a chance to “see a representation of literally one of the greatest paleontological finds ever,” said Phil Lindsey, the CEO at Mobius. “Most of what we know about the T. rex now is a result of finding Sue. Sue was the complete skeleton. She answered so many questions.”

Along with the hulking skeleton, the 3,500-square-foot exhibit also includes interactive displays from the Field Museum about Sue’s life and times – and the seven-year ownership battle over her remains that preceded researchers’ work.

Found in 1990 in South Dakota, the dinosaur’s bones were locked in storage as lawsuits played out over claims of ownership by the federal government, a private fossil-hunting operation and a rancher.

“There are a lot of layers to the story,” Lindsey said.

Ultimately, the Field Museum and corporate partners bought the 67 million-year-old skeleton – at least 90 percent compete – for $8.4 million.

The dinosaur was named for fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson, who spotted a vertebrae sticking out of a bluff. Scientists haven’t been able to say definitively whether the dinosaur was female or male.

This isn’t the skeleton’s first trip to Spokane. The Sue exhibition spent 18 weeks at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in 2007. MAC officials at the time said the exhibit quadrupled their visitor numbers during that period.

In the seven years since, Lindsey said, a “new generation of kids” has emerged. Lindsey said the Mobius got the traveling exhibit at a “bargain price” on short notice.

He said Sue is an impressive, if temporary, addition to the downtown science center.

“I’m sort of half-jokingly pricing dinosaurs now,” he said. “She looks so good.”

Adrian Rogers

When: The exhibit runs through Jan. 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Where: Mobius Science Center, 811 W. Main Ave.

Admission: $10 adults; $7 children (age 3 and younger get in free).

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