Saturday, April 28, 2012

Museum of Idaho - A T-Rex named Sue

We woke up to very light snow flurries yesterday; we guess we are going to be tested on our potential for snow versus our potential for tornadoes as our next stop in West Yellowstone Montana is getting more snow right now but looks to be clearing off before we get there. With a high in the 40's and a wind chill in the 20's, a cloudy and blustery day, we decided today was an inside day.

We had a great breakfast at Smitty's Pancake and Steak House in Idaho Falls. Jo got a small German Pancake with apple topping and it was incredible. Bob is more of a meat and potatoes kind of breakfast eater so he got the sausage breakfast with sausage patties, 2 eggs, hash browns and a biscuit instead of toast and a side of gravy. Everything was done just right, even the over medium eggs which is sometimes tough to find. There are a lot more menu items, especially in the pancakes, waffles and french toast section than we have time planned for our visit so we guess we are going to be eating there a lot.

We then went to the Museum of Idaho, mainly to see "A T-Rex named Sue". Sue was discovered in the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in western South Dakota by Sue Hendrickson and named for her. If not for a delay due to a flat tire giving Sue Hendrickson more time to explore "A T-Rex named Sue" would not have been discovered in 1990 or at all. Sue was unique in that a vast majority of the bones were still there making Sue the largest, most extensive and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex) specimen ever found. 

Ownership of Sue was an issue that finally had to be settled by the courts which took 5 years because Sue was found on private land that was part of the Indian Reservation that was also held in trust by the US Dept. of the Interior. No kidding, we are not making this up.

Since the government was involved things get even more interesting. Believe it or not in 1992 the FBI and the National Guard raided the site where bones were held and being cleaned and moved them to another site until the legal dispute could be resolved. Again, we are not making this up.

The owner of the land eventually retained ownership and Sue was put on the auction block at Sotheby's where she fetched a record $8.36M. The five year dispute gave the Field Museum of Chicago time to build a partnership that included Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, McDonalds (Corporation and Ronald McDonald House Charities), California State University system and individual donors. The deal was for the Field Museum to have permanent display of the original bones and that copies were made for traveling shows. One copy is in Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida and two others were for traveling tours sponsored by McDonalds. We were fortunate enough to see one of the traveling copies and have already made plans for a stop in Chicago to see the original.

Here are some photos of "A T-Rex named Sue".

We also got to see Corpolite, which is dinosaur dung.

Sue was only part of the Museum so next we journeyed onto the Eagle Rock display, a town in miniature where artifacts from the dentist, barber, blacksmith, etc. are displayed along a mock city street.

Idaho Falls has an interesting history with regards to the naming of the town. It started out as Flathead Crossing then Eagle Rock Ferry the Taylor's Bridge then the aforementioned Eagle Rock finally settling on Idaho Falls in 1879. The next part of the museum was a Natural History Museum with stuffed elk, bear, goat, etc. along with a Shoshone village scene.

But the best was yet to come as this museum has an extensive permanent dinosaur exhibit. We saw some really cool displays of dinosaur skeletons, castings showing how they were found and other informative display, and the most complete skeleton of the Camptosaurus in existence.

Here is a picture of a casting of a dinosaur right at the surface that was close to being lost forever before it was found.

Here is the Camptosaurus skeleton.

Here is what the they think the Camptosaurus looks like.

Here is a Stegosaurus skeleton.

This is just another example of a great museum in a place that you would not expect one.

Photos from this visit to the Museum of Idaho have been uploaded to in the Idaho Falls set.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

1 comment:

  1. So glad you're having a great time ~ the museum looks really interesting and I have added it to my things to see & do list. You will love West Yellowstone ~ while in the area take a ride to quake lake... it is very interesting!
    Have fun & Travel safe