Field Museum’s newest dinosaur is crowned ‘Sobek’ the Spinosaurus

Of more than 31,000 online votes cast to name the Spinosaurus fossil, Sobek was tops, beating out Sandy and Sabah.

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Spinosaurus Field Museum fossil cast

The museum’s cast of Sobek the Spinosaurus, the world’s largest predatory dinosaur, is the only one of that creature displayed in the Western Hemisphere. The Spinosaurus was bigger and longer than Tyrannosaurus rex.

Michelle Kuo/Field Museum

In ancient Egyptian folklore, Sobek was a crocodile-headed god who symbolized strength and abundance, protecting the waters of the Nile River and shielding pharaohs from evil forces.

Now, after an online vote that drew more than 31,000 votes, the name Sobek has been chosen for the Field Museum’s Spinosaurus, its newest fossil cast.

In the two-week public vote, people got to choose between three names: Sabah, which is Arabic for swimmer; Sandy, which highlights the Spinosaurus’ origins in the sandy deserts of North Africa; and Sobek. The three names were initially selected by Field Museum staff before voting opened to the public in July.

Sobek garnered 44% of the vote. Sandy had 42%. Sabah got 14%.

Sobek the Spinosaurus is the third dinosaur in the museum with an official name, alongside Sue the T. rex and Máximo the titanosaur, according to Kate Golembiewski, the museum’s public relations and science communications manager.

Since unveiling the Spinosaurus in June, the museum has been working to come up with a name for the dinosaur known as a “prehistoric river monster,” according to the museum.

The name Sobek emerged due to the god’s similarities to the Spinosaurus, a river-dwelling dinosaur with crocodile-like jaws that was first uncovered in Egypt.

The museum’s cast of the Spinosaurus, the world’s largest predatory dinosaur, is the only one displayed in the Western Hemisphere, according to the museum.

At 46 feet long, the Spinosaurus fossil cast is 4 feet longer than Sue the T. rex. When roaming the Earth tens of millions of years ago, Spinosaurus was also bigger and longer than Tyrannosaurus rex. It had a body length of about 46 feet and weighed about 16,000 pounds, according to Britain’s Natural History Museum.

The cast, built in Italy, was created from fossils discovered in the Sahara Desert and housed in Hassan II University in the Moroccan city of Casablanca.

Field Museum Spinosaurus costume fossil cast

A Field Museum staff member in an inflatable Spinosaurus costume poses with the fossil cast in the background.

Elise Schimke/Field Museum

The Spinosaurus cast is mounted in a swimming pose at the museum. The 95-million-year-old semiaquatic creature often hunted fish and swam in rivers thanks to its crocodile-like body and paddle-shaped tail, according to the museum.

At a dinosaur-themed Lego Club event held at the Harold Washington Library last month, children and their parents voted for the Spinosaurus’ new name.

Kashier Walker attended Lego Club with her 1-year-old son Kavius. Walker said she intended to vote for the name Sobek, given its connection to the crocodile-headed god.

“He’s like the father of the crocodiles before they existed,” Walker said of the Spinosaurus.

Flo Tang came to Lego Club with her two sons, Caleb and Cole. Cole, 11, said he voted for the name Sobek because he liked the Egyptian name and thought the Spinosaurus looked like a crocodile.

“That dinosaur has the features of a crocodile,” Flo Tang said, agreeing with her son.

To give Sobek a proper Windy City welcome, the Field Museum is hosting a river cruise tour 10:30 a.m. Thursday with Shoreline Sightseeing’s architecture river tour and water taxi, starting at the dock at 401 N. Michigan Ave.

Though Sobek isn’t going to be on the boat, a staff member in an inflatable Spinosaurus costume will be aboard for people to take pictures with it. Visit shorelinesightseeing.com/schedule for more information and to purchase tickets.

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