The dinosaur trade-Rare dinosaur fossil skeletons adorn the living rooms of celebrities. “It is lost science” say paleontologists

The dinosaur trade-Rare dinosaur fossil skeletons adorn the living rooms of celebrities. “It is lost science” say paleontologists
  • Celebrities bid and collect the rare dinosaur fossil skeletons and a public piece ends up in the living room of the wealthy celebs
  • How far is it right

The ongoing unchecked trade

Every year, around 5 rare dinosaur fossil skeletons are auctioned and sold into private hands for huge sums of money. This is a profit-making trade and is thriving in the high class of society.

Paleontologists have raised their voices against it but it continues unabated. This costs science and leads to a huge loss of knowledge for future generations.

Though promised for public display, it never ends up in museums or for the public to see. This unearthed treasure goes back into oblivion and is lost to the world forever.

Examples of dinosaur fossil skeletons and their auction to private hands

The most expensive dinosaur that was sold was named Sue and it was bought by Chicago’s The Field Museum in 1887 for $8.36 million.

The skeleton of an unknown carnivorous dinosaur excavated from Wyoming in 2013 was sold by Aguttes for €2.3 million (£1.7m) on 4 June 2018 at Eiffel Tower.

The buyer, as usual, promised that the skeleton would eventually end up on public display. But it never did!

Source: YouTube (Sue, the dinosaur fossil skeleton)

An open letter to the traders has emphasized:

Fossil specimens that are sold into private hands are lost to science,”

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David Polly, president of the SVP says:

“A skeleton like this is potentially a unique and irreplaceable piece of evidence of earth’s past, and in that sense it’s important to all of us.”

This April, Parisian auction house Binoche et Giselle auctioned and sold skeletons of Diplodocus and Allosaurus which fetched over €1.4 million (£1.2m) each.

In March last year, it managed to fetch a high amount of money with the sale of a Triceratops skull for €177,800 (£155,000). The almost-complete skeleton of an Allosaurus was sold by Aguttes in Lyons, France for €1.1 million (£964,000) in December 2016.

In 2009, Samson, one of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever found went for around $5 million (£3.8m). The skull which was of a young dinosaur was in a good condition and is reported to be in the lobby of a Californian software firm.

Source: Slate (Nicolas Cage and the dinosaur fossil skeleton from Mongolia which he bid for and purchased)

Actor Nicholas Cage has another bataar skull that he bought in 2007, after outbidding Leonardo DiCaprio at an auction in Beverly Hills. He had promised in December 2015 to return it.

Loss to Science

These are some of the many specimens about the sales of which we know. There are many about which the society is unaware since there is no proper regulation in this trade. Numerous of the world’s most complete dinosaur skeletons are simply untraceable.

Thomas Carr who works as a paleontologist at Carthage College in Wisconsin said:

We’ve got people holding on to these vitally-important specimens,”

Source: (Thomas Carr)

Such commercial fossil collecting is a challenge to deal with and not good for science. Science cannot be sidetracked in the name of monetary gain. Fossils are priceless and cannot have a price tag to them.

But then there are many private fossil hunters who actually take the pain, time, and expenditure to excavate these skeletons.
Mike Triebold, a private fossil collector says it is hard to excavate specimens and a lot of time and money is involved.

“Dinosaurs are pricey because they take so much labour to prepare. If you have to spend $50,000 on a dinosaur you pretty damn well better get some good money for it or you’re gonna go broke.”

Hence he prepares the buyer before he digs. It is private land that he excavates and in the US any fossil found on a private property belongs to the landowner unlike that in Brazil and Mongolia.

Source: Dinosaur Sanctuary (Mike Triebold)

But Carr argues:

“Fossils are nothing but information, and that’s vital information for understanding evolution and biology and everything about a species,”

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