clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Field Museum’s new star attraction — in all its glory

The Field Museum hosts a free day on Saturday. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Far from the fawning crowds and behind a temporary sheet of plexiglass, Sue perhaps shed a tear of joy Friday.

“The new dinosaur — it’s beautiful, it’s massive, but I feel like it’s less impressive than Sue was, just it being a tyrannosaurus Rex; to me, that screams, ‘Dinosaur!’” mused Matthew Holdren, 37, visiting the Field Museum, with his wife and two small children.

Kids and adults alike marveled at the museum’s new star colossus, Maximo, on the day the 122-foot-long plant eater was presented for the first time in its full glory — along with giant hanging gardens and a flock of flying pterosaurs in Stanley Field Hall.

“I can’t believe it’s so large,” said Marylyn Sobun, 74, of Darien. “You see it on Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. But it’s unbelievable when you see bones in person.”

But others missed Sue, the museum’s star attraction for the last 17 years.

“It’s impressive, but my kids wanted to see the T. Rex,” said Tiffiny Montes, 44, visiting from Columbus, Ohio.

Video by Rahul Parikh | Maximo, a skeletal cast of Patagotitan mayorum takes the stage after Sue was dismantled earlier this yea

Sue, dismantled earlier this year, is expected to go on display in 2019 in a specially designed exhibit hall on the second floor. Field staff say Maximo’s arrival freshens up the museum and gives the massive main hall a dinosaur that’s a better fit — Maximo is three times the length of Sue.

Maximo, a skeletal cast of Patagotitan mayorum, was discovered in Patagonia in 2014. Believed to be one of the largest creatures to ever walk the earth, it’s a cast of a composite of six such titanic dinosaurs — a Frankenstein’s monster of sorts.

Although it likely lived among meat-eating dinosaurs, it was probably little troubled by them.

“I wouldn’t mess with that,” said Field paleontologist Eric Gorscak, standing beneath the dinosaur’s giant ribcage.

Maximo was not the most agile of dinosaurs, Gorscak said.

“It was probably eating constantly throughout the day just to maintain its metabolism,” Gorscak said. “Non discriminate about what kind of plants — just whatever it can get in its mouth and digest.”

Gorscak estimated that Maximo consumed about 1,000 pounds of food a day.

Maximo’s neck stretches all the way up to a second-floor balcony, presenting visitors with a tiny, slightly goofy-looking head filled with peg-like teeth.

Maximo had a brain about the size of an adult fist.

“It’s not going to be doing calculus. It’s not going to be playing chess,” Gorscak said.

Unlike Sue, Maximo, because it’s not built from actual fossils, was designed to be touched — something that was unclear Friday to some parents, who hastily yanked away the hands of curious kids.

Not true of Mandy Garcia, 38, of La Grange Park, whose 3-year-old son, Ollie, was jumping up and down on the mount surrounding Maximo.

“He doesn’t know anything about dinosaurs,” confided Ollie’s 5-year-old brother, Beni, after Ollie mistakenly referred to Sue as a pterodactyl.

Beni and Ollie enjoyed feeling Maximo’s giant leg bones, but the older brother was clearly missing Sue.

“Because it had sharp teeth and it can eat people — if people were around back then,” Beni said.