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150-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Skeleton Gets Auctioned Off For Over $2 Million In Paris

Jun 05, 2018 06:34 PM EDT
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An anonymous art collector just dropped $2.3 million for a well-preserved dinosaur skeleton that is 150 million years old.

It's an exceptional buy, considering that it's ancient yet 70 percent intact. The French buyer said that the rare skeleton will be loaned to and displayed in a museum.

A New Dinosaur Species

The dinosaur bones are believed to be from a new species of Allosaurus, which was dug from a site in Wyoming back in 2013, The Guardian reported. Initially, the paleontologists assumed that the massive skeleton, around 30 feet long and 8.5 feet tall, was an Allosaurus.

However, a closer examination revealed that it had a lot more teeth and a different set of bones than an Allosaurus.

"It's not every day you come across a new species of carnivore and a skeleton that is so complete — in fact it's very rare," Eric Mickeler, a dinosaur expert, who oversaw the auction, explained to the Guardian in a previous report. "This is the first time in almost 20 years I've seen anything like this. It's fantastic, with an extraordinary skull, lots of teeth and the claws."

The creature reportedly lived during the late Jurassic period, predating the Tyrannosaurus that appeared in the Cretaceous period.

What Critics Are Saying

Some groups, however, are not happy about the sale of such an important scientific specimen to a private collector. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, for one, reached out to auction house Auguttes in an attempt to stop the sale.

In a letter addressed to Auguttes, the organization urged the firm to reconsider the auction. While the SVP acknowledges that everything was done legally, they pointed out that such fossils are part of the collective natural heritage and should be in public trust to be examined and reexamined by scientists.

"Fossil specimens that are sold into private hands are lost to science," the members of SVP wrote. "Even if made accessible to scientists, information contained within privately owned specimens cannot be included in the scientific literature because the availability of the fossil material to other scientists cannot be guaranteed, and therefore verification of scientific claims (the essence of scientific progress) cannot be performed."

Brian Switek, a science writer, also expresses his disappointment in a piece in The Guardian. He explains that a sale to a private collector means that scientists won't be able to use it to study the mysteries of the Jurassic period.

"I'm saddened to see part of my country's Jurassic heritage go up for sale to the highest bidder. The allosaurus is an animal that records the details of a lost world in its bones," he concludes. "That's priceless."

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