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Michigan Science Center educator Amanda Murray holds two plastic T rex models

October 30, 2015 Comments Off on An Educator’s Dino Passion Views: 1938 Blog

An Educator’s Dino Passion

By Amanda Murray, MiSci Educator

My name is Amanda, and I am an educator here at MiSci. I studied animal behavior, focusing on wasps, at Oakland University. Although I love all animals, especially insects, when people ask me, “What is your favorite animal?” I always respond, “Tyrannosaurus rex!”

As a child, I was always obsessed with dinosaurs. I collected dinosaur books and tried to learn as much as I could about them. Then in 1993, a movie came out that changed my 9-year-old life. Jurassic Park used effects and a story that brought these amazing creatures to life in a way never seen before. With the movie, came amazing action figures – which of course I collected as a child. To this day, Jurassic Park is still my favorite movie (and I still have all my dino toys).

As an adult, I still love dinosaurs, and I bet you can imagine my excitement when I found out that the A T. rex Named Sue was coming to MiSci. Sue here, at my work? I will be able to see her in person? I couldn’t contain my happiness. Because of my passion for dinosaurs, I became the education lead of the Sue exhibit. I did a great deal of research into how Sue was discovered and why her discovery is so important to paleontologists.

Sue, named after her discoverer, Sue Hendrickson, is the most complete T. rex skeleton ever discovered. Many fossilized bones found in Sue have never been found in a T. rex before. These fossilized bones are extremely valuable to scientists because they not only help us understand how Sue lived, but explain the evolutionary history of theropod dinosaurs. One of the amazing discoveries found in Sue is the furcula, or wishbone. This bone is only present in theropod dinosaurs, like T. rex, and birds. Another rare discovery Sue has provided scientists is the ear bone, also called the stapes. This tiny ear bone has never been found in a T. rex before, and may provide valuable information about the evolution of hearing in dinosaurs and birds.

Sue also contains one of only two T. rex arms ever discovered, as well as the most complete T. rex tail ever found. Sue’s bones were so well preserved that some even have the impressions of where the muscles attached! This can allow scientists to get a more accurate picture of what Sue may have looked like while she was living in the Cretaceous period, over 65 million years ago.

I could go on forever about how amazing Sue is….but don’t take my word for it – come see her yourself! You’ll be amazed at how immense she is and learn more about her discovery.

Is Sue really a female? How did the Field Museum obtain her fossils? What caused the damage on her jaw? You can learn these and many more remarkable facts at the A T. rex named Sue exhibit. Hope to see you at MiSci soon!

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