Cover image for Tyrannosaurus Sue : the extraordinary saga of the largest, most fought over T. rex ever found
Tyrannosaurus Sue : the extraordinary saga of the largest, most fought over T. rex ever found
Fiffer, Steve.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : W.H. Freeman, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvi, 248 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE862.S3 F54 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
QE862.S3 F54 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Over 65 million years ago in what is now South Dakota, a Tyrannosaurus rex fell into a riverbed and died. In 1990, the skeleton was found, virtually complete, in what many call the most spectacular dinosaur fossil discovery ever. This is an account of the battles that ensued over rights to the find, involving dinosaur hunters, a federal prosecutor, and a Native American tribe, and pitting museums against corporate giants. Fiffer is a lawyer, journalist, and author. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Everyone seems to love dinosaurs, and almost everyone loves to watch big public fights, especially when they involve piles of money, the FBI and jail. Journalist Fiffer (Three Quarters, Two Dimes and a Nickel) has therefore found the ideal topic for a short, racy nonfiction narrative, one that combines the history of a science (dinosaur paleontology) with the dramatic twists of a legal thriller. In 1990, the diligent, scrappy South Dakota fossil-hunters Sue Hendrickson and Peter Larson dug up an exceptional T. rex--only the 12th tyrannosaur ever found, and the biggest and best-preserved to date. Larson paid rancher Maurice Williams (on whose land the beast was found) $5,000 for the fossil--nicknamed "Sue"--and announced his plans to build a museum around it. Williams then said he still owned the find, while a nearby Sioux tribe claimed it did, since Sue had perhaps been unearthed from tribal land. Larson awoke to find federal agents carting away all his papers, along with his giant prize fossil--arguably jeopardizing a priceless discovery, and certainly angering nearby South Dakotans. The ensuing legal, political and scientific imbroglio set Native Americans against the federal government, the government against itself, the feds against established scientists and the world's great research universities against independent operators like Larson. Fiffer's thorough account should prove irresistible to readers with even a marginal interest in the legendary lizards--or in the less-sexy topics raised by this particular find, from Upper Midwest tribal disputes to pretrial publicity and the conduct of prosecutions. Agent, Gail Hochman. Author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

On May 17, 2000, Chicago's Field Museum unveiled the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil skeleton yet found. Named after Susan Hendrickson, the paleontologist who discovered her, Sue was excavated from North Dakota's Badlands by commercial fossil-hunter Peter Larson. He carefully prepared many of her bones and planned to build a new museum in the Black Hills to showcase herDuntil she was seized by the government. Sue languished in storage for five years while a battle raged over her ownership and the government prosecuted Larson for fossil hunting on federal land. These legal maneuverings made Sue the most expensive fossil in history (the museum eventually bought her for $6.8 millionDwith assistance from McDonald's and Disney) and, ironically, encouraged fossil theft in anticipation of high prices. Journalist Fiffer recounts these events in compelling detail. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries with natural history collections.DGloria Maxwell, Penn Valley Community Coll. Lib., Kansas City, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Attorney and journalist Fiffer has written a delightful book, walking us through the story of the discovery, litigation, and sale of Sue, perhaps the most well known of any fossil today. Tyrannosaurus Sue is a great example of how fact can be more interesting than fiction, with romance, drama, plot, persona and "fact" all intertwined into a book that reads like an extended New Yorker article. The history of Sue's discoverers and their sad saga is quite skillfully combined with historical parallels to the Cope and Marsh story of a century ago. Fiffer's tale is clearly weighted through the eyes of the commercial fossil hunters who were first responsible for uncovering the behemoth. This does not detract from the book, but it perhaps helps place the volume on the "about science" shelf rather than in the vertebrate paleontology section. General readers; undergraduates. ; Boston College

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Prologuep. 1
1 It Must be A T. Rexp. 5
2 Never, Ever for Salep. 27
3 You Better Get Out Here, Petep. 47
4 Taking a Howitzer to a Flyp. 65
5 Who Owns Sue?p. 89
6 Is a Dinosaur "Land"?p. 107
7 Jurassic Farcep. 121
8 You can Indict a Ham Sandwichp. 137
9 Negotiations Are Under Wayp. 151
10 They're Not Crimesp. 161
11 I Kept Waiting for Something to Happenp. 183
12 Everything Changed that Dayp. 195
13 You May Approach Her Majestyp. 213
Epiloguep. 235
Indexp. 237