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“Sue,” the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered, was found on this day in history, August 12, 1990.

While the fossil is named Sue, it is not actually known whether the T. rex was male or female. 

It was named after Sue Hendrickson, the person who discovered the fossil during a commercial excavation trip.

Hendrickson was near Faith, South Dakota, when she spotted “a few large vertebrae jutting out of an eroded bluff,” said the website for the Field Museum in Chicago, the fossil’s current home.

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Hendrickson thought there could be additional fossils near the vertebrae — which proved to be correct. 

“In the end, it took six people 17 days to extract the dinosaur’s bones from the ground where SUE was discovered,” said the Field Museum. 

woman standing in front of T-Rex

Fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson smiles at the unveiling of the Tyranosaurus rex skeleton “Sue” that Hendrickson discovered on Aug. 12, 1990. (JOHN ZICH/AFP via Getty Images)

Sue is more than 40 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hip bone, making the skeleton the largest T. rex that has ever been found, said The Field Museum.

Additionally, Sue has roughly 90% of the known bones in a T. rex skeleton – 250 out of 380, said the museum.  

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“Sue is the most celebrated representative of T. rex and arguably the most famous fossil in the world,” said The Field Museum’s website. 

“Sue has enabled scientists all over the world to do more detailed studies of the species’ evolutionary relationships, biology, growth, and behavior than ever before.”

dinosaur skeleton

Sue, the largest and most complete T. rex fossil ever discovered, was found in South Dakota on this day in history.  (Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

Since 2018, Sue has been on permanent display in a dedicated suite at the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet at the Field Museum. 

As Sue is a nearly complete specimen, scientists made copies of the skeleton for research and display purposes, noted the museum. 

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One of the copies, dubbed “Dino-Sue,” is on display at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park in Orlando, Florida, said Walt Disney World’s website. 

Sue was purchased by the Field Museum in 1998, after what the museum described as a “five-year custody battle” among three different parties. 

Other copies were mounted and are part of traveling exhibits at museums and science centers, “for international dinosaur lovers to marvel at,” said the Field Museum. 

Sue was purchased by the Field Museum in 1998, after what the museum described as a “five-year custody battle” among three different parties. 

Sue the dinosaur on display

Sue pictured on display on May 17, 2000, at the Field Museum in Chicago. At the time of purchase by the Field Museum, Sue was the most expensive fossil in history.  (Tim Boyle/Newsmakers)

The Field Museum, along with McDonald’s Corporation, the Walt Disney World Resort and other private donors, paid a total of $8.4 million to buy Sue at a public auction. 

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This would be the most ever paid for a fossil until October 2020, when a museum in Abu Dhabi paid $31.8 million to purchase “Stan,” another T. rex discovered in South Dakota. 

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In addition to Sue’s permanent residence at the Field Museum, the dinosaur can also be “found” on X, formerly known as Twitter, acting as a “hilarious, pun-loving dinosaur,” said the museum.

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