Sue, Chicago's favorite carnivore, turns 10 this week. Well, actually 67 million and 10, but she's never looked better, and the Field Museum is celebrating with two new high-tech exhibits for a very, very old set of bones.
First is "Waking the T-Rex," a 3-D movie that chronicles Sue's life, from birth to the discovery of her bones and unveiling at the museum in 2000. Infection, a few close scrapes, and a death near water -- that's what we know for sure about Sue, who remains the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found.
A computerized fight scene between Sue and a triceratops is spectacular, and if the reactions from a class of Park Ridge third-graders at a sneak peek earlier this week is any indication, the film is a home run among the elementary-school crowd.
Downstairs, just off the main gallery where Sue's skeleton is on display, is RoboSUE, an animatronics exhibit with a life-sized Sue, a triceratops and two velociraptors. The dinos are loaded up with facial recognition and interactive software and can track visitors, respond to what they see, and even interact with each other. Think "Jurassic Park," without the funny Jeeps.
Keep in mind that this may not be ideal for younger kids. The Field Museum recommends ages 5 and up, and when the velociraptor blinks at you and takes a menacing step to cover its nest, you'll understand why.
But for the rest of the family, this exhibit breathes new life into Sue, who has been seen by more than 16 million visitors in her decade at the Field.
"Every year, there are new paleontologists," Field Museum President John McCall says. "Somebody gets to be 3, 4, 5 years old and all of a sudden can say, trippingly off their tongue, triceratops and Tyrannosaurus Rex. We want to capture that imagination and that excitement."
This exhibit does that and more, a symbol of the thrill of discovery and a reminder of the relevance of even an extremely old pile of bones.
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