FYI August 12, 2017


1990 – Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton found to date, is discovered by Sue Hendrickson in South Dakota.
“Sue” is the nickname given to FMNH PR 2081, which is the largest, most extensive and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found at over 90% recovered by bulk.[2] It was discovered in August 1990, by Sue Hendrickson, a paleontologist, and was named after her. After ownership disputes were settled, the fossil was auctioned in October 1997, for US $7.6 million,[3][4] the highest amount ever paid for a dinosaur fossil,[5] and is now a permanent feature at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.[6]

Discovery

During the summer of 1990, a group of workers from the Black Hills Institute, located in Hill City, searched for fossils at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in western South Dakota near the city of Faith. By the end of the summer, the group had discovered Edmontosaurus bones and was ready to leave. However, a flat tire was discovered on their truck before the group could depart on August 12.[7] While the rest of the group went into town to repair the truck, Sue Hendrickson decided to explore the nearby cliffs that the group had not checked. As she was walking along the base of a cliff, she discovered some small pieces of bone. She looked above her to see where the bones had originated, and observed larger bones protruding from the wall of the cliff. She returned to camp with two small pieces of the bones and reported the discovery to the president of the Black Hills Institute, Peter Larson.[8] He determined that the bones were from a T. rex by their distinctive contour and texture. Later, closer examination of the site showed many visible bones above the ground and some articulated vertebrae.[9] The crew ordered extra plaster and, although some of the crew had to depart, Hendrickson and a few other workers began to uncover the bones. The group was excited, as it was evident that much of the dinosaur had been preserved. Previously discovered T. rex skeletons were usually missing over half of their bones.[9] It was later ascertained that Sue was a record 90 percent complete by bulk.[10] Scientists believe that this specimen was covered by water and mud soon after its death which prevented other animals from carrying away the bones.[11] Additionally, the rushing water mixed the skeleton together. When the fossil was found the hip bones were above the skull and the leg bones were intertwined with the ribs. The large size and the excellent condition of the bones were also surprising. The skull was nearly five feet long (1394 millimeters), and most of the teeth were still intact. After the group completed excavating the bones, each vertebra was covered in burlap and coated in plaster, followed by a transfer to the offices of The Black Hills Institute where they began to clean the bones.

Dispute and auction
Soon after the fossils were found, a dispute arose over their legal ownership. The Black Hills Institute had obtained permission from the owner of the land, Maurice Williams, to excavate and remove the skeleton, and had paid Williams US$5,000 for the remains.[12] Williams claimed, almost 2 years after depositing the check, that the $5000 payment had not been for the sale of the fossil, and he had only allowed Larson to remove and clean the fossil for a later sale. [9] Williams never credited or compensated Larson or The Black Hills Institute, and video rerecordings, eye witness accounts, and the cancelled check memo show Williams changed his story. Williams was a member of the Sioux tribe, and the tribe claimed the bones belonged to them. However, the property that the fossil had been found within was held in trust by the United States Department of the Interior. Thus, the land technically belonged to the government. In 1992, the FBI and the South Dakota National Guard raided the site where The Black Hills Institute had been cleaning the bones and seized the fossil.[13] The government transferred the remains to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where it was stored until the legal dispute was settled. After a lengthy trial, the court decreed that Maurice Williams retained ownership, because as a beneficiary he was protected by the law against an impulsive selling of real property, and the remains were returned in 1995. Williams then decided to sell the remains, and contracted with Sotheby’s to auction the property. Many were then worried that the fossil would end up in a private collection where people would not be able to observe it.[14][15] The Field Museum in Chicago was also concerned about this possibility, and decided to attempt to purchase Sue. However, the organization realized that they might have had difficulty securing funding and requested that companies and private citizens provide financial support. The California State University system, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and individual donors agreed to assist in purchasing Sue for The Field Museum. On October 4, 1997, the auction began at US$500,000; less than ten minutes later, The Field Museum had purchased the remains with the highest bid of US$7.6 million. The final cost after Sotheby’s commission was US$8,362,500.[5][16] Williams received the $7.6 million tax free due to being a sale of Trust Land.

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1889 – Zerna Sharp, American author and educator (d. 1981)
Zerna Addis Sharp (August 12, 1889 – June 17, 1981) was a US author, writer and teacher. She became known for creating the Dick and Jane beginning readers, and many other readers for children. Sharp noted the reduced reading ability of children during her travels and urged a new reading format for primers. She suggested that primers introduce a word at a time to new readers, and the Dick and Jane primers adhered to this format. The names “Dick” and “Jane” were chosen because they were easy to sound. The primers were sold from 1927 to 1973.

Sharp was born in Hillisburg, Clinton County, Indiana. She died in Frankfort, Indiana at the age of 91.

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