November 25, 1998
Vol. 18 No. 5

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    Chicago museum to exhibit Suchomimus

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    The enormous new species of predatory dinosaur that Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno unveiled Nov. 12 in Washington, D.C., will go on display Thursday, Dec. 10, at Chicago Children’s Museum.

    “Chicago Children’s Museum will make this creature and all of the excitement of the expedition immediately accessible to children,” said Dianne Sautter, the museum’s president.

    “We are proud to share a dinosaur unlike any ever seen before and bring the adventure of scientific discovery to children, their families and schools,” she added.

    The dinosaur, which had a head shaped like a crocodile’s and foot-long thumb claws, was discovered last year in the Sahara during an international expedition led by Sereno. He and his colleagues have named the creature Suchomimus tenerensis, meaning “crocodile mimic from the Tènèrè,” a remote dune-covered region of the Sahara in the Niger Republic.

    Measuring 36 feet in length and 12-feet high at the hip, the dinosaur grew to the size of Tyrannosaurus rex. Suchomimus constitutes the most complete example known to date of a family of predators called spinosaurs.

    Suchomimus will be displayed in the Great Hall of Chicago Children’s Museum in an interactive environment where children and families can experience for themselves the thrill and significance of this discovery.

    “Paleontologists live for the moments of discovery like we had on this expedition, and we want to share those moments with visitors of Chicago Children’s Museum,” Sereno said. “This exhibit represents the first time that a major discovery in the natural sciences is announced to the world and then presented first and foremost to children.”

    Visitors can play the role of paleontologist by piecing together the claw and the bones of the creature’s forelimb, comparing the cast skeleton to a smaller flesh model and learning how the 15-member expedition team unearthed 25 tons of bone and rock to find the remains.

    The exhibit will include showings of the National Geographic EXPLORER television documentary about the discovery, titled “Colossal Claw.” The display is the result of an ongoing partnership between the museum, Sereno and educator Gabrielle Lyon of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

    In mid-June, Chicago Children’s Museum will open the companion exhibit “Dinosaur Discovery.” This exhibit will recreate the excavation site, allowing children to experience camp life as expedition members. The simulated site also will allow them to discover bones in an excavation pit, analyze their findings in a research tent and prepare bones for preservation and skeletal reconstruction in a lab.

    The mission of Chicago Children’s Museum is to activate the intellectual and creative potential of children by being a catalyst for learning.

    Chicago Children’s Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, most school holidays and from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings. It also is open every day in the summer. For more information, call (312) 527-1000 or visit the Chicago Children’s Museum Web site at www.chichildrensmuseum.org.