Sunday, November 29, 2009

Diamonds to Dinosaurs: Field Museum Chicago

Her name is Sue. She lived 67 million years ago in what is now South Dakota and is the most complete fossil of a Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. Sue is the celebrated star of the Field Museum in Chicago, a stunning natural history museum that I visited for the first time on Friday.

Sue’s skeleton was discovered in 1990 by fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson. At 42 feet long, 13 feet tall, she weighed 7 tons. According to the Field Museum, only 7 T. Rex skeletons that are more than half complete have been discovered. Of these, Sue is the most complete and best preserved.

The museum is a spectacular building in the Classical Revival style which was built in 1893. I wished I had more time to explore all of its many permanent exhibitions. The museum has a collection of over 21 million specimens and is considered one of the most important natural history museums in the world. After viewing Sue in her prized spot in the grand Stanley Field Hall, we went through the Evolving Planet exhibit which was a fascinating journey through 4 billion years of life on earth. The exhibit was the best I’ve seen on the various cycles of life, the 5 previous mass extinction cycles with a 6 minute video on the present 6th mass extinction cycle that we’re going through now. The centerpiece of the exhibit is an impressive hall of dinosaurs.

We also viewed the Lions of Tsavo, the famous man eating lions that terrorized railway workers in East Africa a century ago and are the subject of the movie The Ghost and the Darkness.

The Nature of Diamonds is a temporary exhibit that explores the geological origins of diamonds from deep inside the earth, and traces their place in history and adornment. On display was the Incomparable Diamond, the most flawless diamond ever found. At 407 carats it is the third largest cut diamond ever found. It was discovered in the Congo in 1980. The famous 128 carat Tiffany Diamond was also on display.

See Field Museum Website and go if you ever have a chance!

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