Chicago Police Try to Solve a Monstrous Mystery at the Field Museum - NBC Chicago

Chicago Police Try to Solve a Monstrous Mystery at the Field Museum

The public will be allowed to watch because the scanning process is safe



    The Sue Mystery

    Cops will pitch in on the mystery of how Sue moved (Published Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009)

    Chicago Police will apply their considerable investigative skills crack a cretaceous caper.

    How fast was the T-Rex?

    The CPD will lend a portable laser scanner that they use to create digital images of crime scenes to the Field Museum on Saturday. Researchers want to figure out how their famous T-Rex, "Sue," might have moved - what speeds could the creature reach and how did it turn it's massive body.

    Sue is the perfect candidate for "CSI:Creteaceous." Her's is the largest, most complete and best preserved T-Rex fossil yet discovered. And all the bones on display are real fossils, not plaster casts.

    Cops will scan Sue from six different angles and later feed the images into engineering software that will allow them to add digital muscle to Sue’s bones to get an accurate measurement of body mass. The test will determine where the 42-foot long dinosaur’s center of gravity rested and how quickly the it could have moved and turned.

    The scan is accurate to a half-inch or less,  Peter Makovicky the Field’s curator of dinosaurs told the Sun-Times, so that will give researchers an “accurate digital model’’ to then work with.

    The digital modeling could help researchers put to rest a long-running debate about the eating habits of the giant: was T-Rex a predator or a scavenger? The debate focuses mostly on the speed and turning capability of the dinosaur. The crux of the debate comes down to speed. If T-Rex couldn't run fast enough to catch its prey, then the scavenger theory takes on more credence.

    The public will have a chance to see the dino-detective work in process because the scan is not hazardous.