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RE: Sue Photos Online (Good ones!)
>Which is why it is questionable practice to mount real bones in the first
>place. In the nineteenth century they didn't know any better, but these
>days it is an odd thing to do.
>Why was this done with Sue?
Because, overall, people want to see the real thing. I also had misgivings
at first about mounting the real bones, but the group that mounted it was
able to construct a framework that required no damage to any of the bones,
and we are able to remove any one of them for research purposes. The skull
is mounted on a wheeled base that can be pulled out of its case if
necessary. That was one of our non-negotiable conditions at the beginning
- no bones were to be modified for the mount. I am satisfied that we've
come as close as possible to fulfilling the dual (and sometimes
conflicting) goals of making Sue a research specimen and an exhibit.
Another reason, which I learned the hard way while working on Il Monstro -
for some larger fossils, it is easier to study the material if mounted than
if not. Try lifting a large tyrannosaur femur to see the other side, and
you'll see what I mean. (The first part of Sue I ever saw was the left
ilium. A big croc left ilium fits in your hand. Sue's filled a table.
The scale was a bit different from what I'd grown accustomed to.) This is
not true for all elements, but as I said above, the bones are removable for
I've seen newly-exhibited cast mounts. They're great, but after a while,
people lose interest. I'm reminded of the line Gilliam has in _Holy
Grail_: "It's only a model."
Christopher A. Brochu
Department of Geology
Field Museum of Natural History
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605