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October 8, 2009

Beast unleashed at ULM's Museum of Natural History

The University of Louisiana at Monroe recently unleashed a beast at its Museum of Natural History - albeit one that is about 65-million years old.

ULM Museum of Natural History Geosciences Division Curator Dr. Gary Stringer received a little help from young paleontologist-in-training, Calvin Praetorius, as he unveiled a skull cast of Sue, the world's most complete Tyrannosaurus rex specimen.

The skull is roughly 59 inches long, 32 inches wide, and 37 inches from the bottom of the jaw to the top of the skull, according to Stringer. There are approximately 55 teeth in the jaws with many of them over five inches long, he said.

"This skull should impress young and old alike for many years to come," said Stringer. "It is truly a magnificent fossil and is easily visible when walking into the Museum as it is mounted about six feet above the floor."

The unveiling took place at the museum's first seminar of the fall semester, with about 50 people in attendance, said Stringer. Praetorius is the son of Shane Praetorius, provost and vice present of ULM Academic Affairs.

"I like to tell people that Calvin is our 'biggest little supporter,'" said Stringer.

Stringer said the acquisition was one of the most exciting events ever in the Geosciences Division of the Museum. Sue's full 42-foot-long, 7-ton skeleton resides in Stanley Hall at the Chicago Field Museum. Scientists today theorize that a disease transmitted by parasites, rather than a bloody battle, may have killed her.

The cast of the dinosaur skull was made possible by a generous donation from geology alumnus Stanley Barnett and matching funds from Agilent Technologies.

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