Sue Hendrickson says her T. rex namesake needed a better ambassador
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Who knows Sue?
I sure do.
Sue Hendrickson, the paleontologist who discovered Sue, the Field Museum’s world famous T. rex, is an old friend.
And she’s been keeping track of the recent dismantling of her Sue namesake, the museum’s star attraction now wending its way to a new upstairs location to make room for a bigger dinosaur called a Titanosaur.
So Sneed reached out to Hendrickson en route from Tokyo to Hong Kong last week to chat about the meat-eating monster that made her world famous.
“I may have found Sue in 1990 with my golden retriever, Gypsy,” Hendrickson said. “But I’ve always felt I was the wrong person to find her.”
“Look, it was hot in the South Dakota Badlands that August and Gypsy hiked with me for miles. No shade for relief. We’d already been in the field for six weeks. It’s hard to find any specimen, let alone the best preserved and most complete. They were just jutting out of a cliffside, hovering eight feet over a pile of Sue’s bones.
“By the way, Gypsy did NOT chew on THOSE bones,” she said.
“But later, I felt Sue would have been better served by somebody else,” added Hendrickson, who lives in Honduras most of the year when she isn’t diving for seashells, looking for fossils and dinosaurs, advising museums, or working with famed archeologist/Egyptologist Frank Gaudio on his projects around the world.
“It should have been someone who likes to teach or a good public speaker,” Hendrickson said.
“I was not that person. Sue needed a translator. I’m not much of a people person and people really wanted to know the person that found her. I don’t like crowds. A number of my colleagues would have been better in bringing her story to life.”
For years, Hendrickson was a frequent fixture at the museum — telling her story; making headlines; being awarded degrees and always accompanied by her constant companion: a golden retriever named Skywalker, a descendant of Gypsy.
It’s been a long time — more than a decade since Sue has seen Sue.
“But I think I’ll revisit her next year at her new home,” Hendrickson said.
“Sue is quite the personality and didn’t communicate well where she was exhibited at Stanley Field Hall. She, however, is doing great on Twitter . . . she certainly can out-tweet Trump, and her vocabulary is immensely more expansive than his!”
In an interview last year, Hendrickson told Sneed she was pleased Sue was now going to be moved from centerstage on the first floor of the Field Museum, where she felt the T. rex was dwarfed.
“She’ll now have a more dramatic setting to tell her story,” she said. “I hope people will really ‘feel’ Sue in her new space. She has a lot to say!”
Hendrickson and I met via a phone call from Egypt years ago shortly after the Field Museum decided to hold a contest to rename Sue, which was canceled shortly after Hendrickson flew to Chicago and “reintroduced” herself.
A rescuer of people and animals, she lives on the island of Guanaja in Honduras, where she feeds over 60 dogs and houses 15 of them; runs an animal clinic; and fights “greedy” developers destroying the island’s environment.
Not surprisingly, a very convincing Hendrickson has led me to my golden retrievers; Marley, Querenica, Zeb, Pip and Two Two (Querencia II), accompanied by a slew of vet bills.
Sneedless to say, we have bonded.
“I’m told some people are sad and nostalgic Sue is being removed now, but they shouldn’t be,” Hendrickson said. (Even movie magnate Steven Spielberg commented on how small she looked in her spot at the museum.)
“I’m hoping Sue will now be able to shine!
“But do I dream about her? No.
“I miss her.
“But now I dream about seashells . . . not Sue.”
Sneedlings . . .
I spy: Minnesota Timberwolves player Tyus Jones spotted dining Thursday night at Harry Caray’s on Kinzie. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Emma Roberts, 27; Zaza Pachulia, 34, and Uzo Aduba, 37. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Jennifer Aniston, 49; Kelly Rowland, 37; and Burt Reynolds, 82.