Sue Hendrickson, amateur paleontologist, discovered the most complete (approximately 85%) and, until 2001, the largest, Tyrannosaurus fossil skeleton known in South Dakota, on 12 August 1990. From 1998 to 1999 Field Museum of Natural History preparators spent over 25,000 man-hours taking the rock off each of the bones.
The mounted skeleton opened to the public on May 17, 2000 in the great hall at the Field Museum of Natural History. A study of this specimen's fossilized bones showed that "Sue" reached full size at age 19 and died at age 28, the longest any tyrannosaur is known to have lived. Early speculation that Sue may have died from a bite to the back of the head was not confirmed. Though subsequent study showed many pathologies in the skeleton, no bite marks were found.
Damage to the back of the skull may have been caused by post-mortem trampling. Recent speculation indicates that "Sue" may have died of starvation after contracting a parasitic infection from eating diseased meat; the resulting infection would have caused inflammation in the throat, ultimately leading "Sue" to starve because she could no longer swallow food. This hypothesis is substantiated by smooth-edged holes in her skull which are similar to those caused in modern-day birds that contract the same parasite.
Have any of you already met Sue?