Cover image for Rex appeal : the amazing story of Sue, the dinosaur that changed science, the law, and my life
Rex appeal : the amazing story of Sue, the dinosaur that changed science, the law, and my life
Larson, Peter L.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Montpelier, Vt. : Invisible Cities Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xviii, 404 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QE862.S3 L39 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
QE862.S3 L39 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Unraveling the fascinating puzzle of who the Tyrannosaurus rexes were and how they lived, this book shares the amazing story of the uncovering and painstaking restoration of prehistory's most popular monster. Written by the most successful T. rex hunter in history, this guide tells how a crew without university grants or funding, even without PhDs, were able to buck the academic establishment and sometimes even the United States government and the FBI in the pursuit of discovery. Legal issues pertaining to the ownership of the finds are fully examined, as is the art, science, and high technology of creating the fantastic restored skeletons that are marveled at in museums.

Author Notes

Peter L. Larson is the founder and president of the Black Hills Institute of Geographical Research. He has personally collected and prepared fossil material from North and South America, Europe, and Asia. He lives in Hill City, South Dakota. Kristin Donnan is a writer who investigated controversial legal cases for NBC's Unsolved Mysteries and worked on a special magazine series on collecting dinosaurs. She lives in Hill City, South Dakota.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Few visitors to Chicago's Field Museum probably understand that when they see Sue, the Tyrannosaurus rex, they're looking at "real estate," not the top carnivore of the Cretaceous. By applying those two words, the legal system pried the famous fossil from its ostensible owner, then jailed him for two years. This atrocious legal persecution of Peter Larson was recounted in Steve Fiffer's Tyrannosaurus Sue (2000); here Larson describes his ordeal. The subtext of the story was Larson's business as a commercial dinosaur collector, an occupation viewed with odium by some institution-based paleontologists. But far from being a furtive bone-robber, Larson was as conscientious and professional as any professor, with many digs and scientific papers about T. rex to his credit. This genuine dedication to research and discovery shines through Larson's telling of the nightmarish prosecution of him and his business. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Paleontologist Peter Larson recalls the discovery that made him and his colleagues at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research instant stars and in trouble with the law in his memoir Rex Appeal: The Amazing Story of Sue, the Dinosaur That Changed Science, the Law, and My Life. In 1990, his team discovered the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that the world had seen. Almost immediately, however, the team (which is unaffiliated with any university) became embroiled in a dispute with the U.S. government about who owns the fossil, during which the skeleton was seized by the National Guard. Co-written with his wife, journalist Kristin Donan, the book recounts the heated legal battles but focuses primarily on Larson's adventures in South Dakota, where his group eventually found six more T. rex fossils. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil was discovered in 1990 by Sue Hendrickson, but it was the Black Hills Institute team, headed by Larson, that did the backbreaking, labor-intensive work of carefully excavating its bones from beneath a butte in South Dakota. So how did the fossil named Sue end up in Chicago's Field Museum? Despite a verbal contract, in which Larson paid Maurice Williams $5000 to excavate and remove the fossil from his land, federal agents seized Sue and brought charges against Larson and the Black Hills Institute. The ensuing trial centered around ownership of the land where Sue was discovered and whether or not Larson and the Black Hills Institute were involved in illegally hunting and selling fossils. Larson's unfortunate experience underscores the lack of appropriate regulation for fossil collecting as well as the valuable service qualified independent collectors provide to professional paleontologists. Larson and Donnan, an NBC reporter who covered the case and later married Larson, also present the latest information regarding Tyrannosaurus rex anatomy, gender determination, and similarity to birds. While Steven Fiffer's account of events in Tyrannosaurus Sue is more objective and comprehensive, Larson and Donnan's book provides the personal, behind-the-scenes drama that only someone who lived it could provide. Highly recommended for most libraries. Gloria 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.