‘It’s like burning books!’ Furious paleontologists blast Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses for selling dinosaur fossils and for turning prehistoric specimens into ‘toys for the wealthy’

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  • Angry paleontologists explode over private sale of dinosaur remains
  • Once bones are purchased by private collectors, they ‘no longer exist for scientists’ as skeletons must be accessible to all scientists
  • Museums had previously bought skeletons found by Americans on their land, but the 1997 sale of a T. rex named ‘Sue’ for $8.4m – Sotheby’s first dinosaur sale – opened the floodgates for private sale
  • The wound was recently reopened when an entire Gorgosaurus was sold for $6.1 million at auction on July 28 to an anonymous bidder.
  • Sotheby’s told DailyMail.com: ‘All the great museums in the world began as private collections, and in fact the concept of a museum was born out of the early modern tradition of cabinets of curiosity’

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Paleontologists have long been furious about the private sale of dinosaur skeletons; But the wound was reopened last month when a 10-foot-tall Gorgosaurus skeleton was sold at auction to an anonymous bidder.

The $6.1 million sale at Sotheby’s auction house in New York, and others like it, means prehistoric remains are being put out of reach of the scientific community that study them, scientists say once private. In the hands, prehistoric specimens ‘small’ more than toys for the rich’


Steve Brussett, an American paleontologist affiliated with the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, told DailyMail.com: ‘Dinosaurs are becoming a traded commodity on the global market, a luxury item affordable only to the wealthiest, fine art or classic. A little different from cars. Or old bottles of whiskey.

‘They are more than toys for the rich. If an elite class buys a dinosaur skeleton and places it in the foyer of one of their mansions, it is effectively lost to science. Gone, a ghost.’

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These sales were usually handled by museums who would either buy the specimens outright or send them to a collector to bid for them, but in recent years, the artifacts were sold as pieces of art to the wealthy. Importance is given and museums cannot compete with the high prices.

Paleontologists have long spoken out against auctions selling dinosaur skeletons to private collectors, but the sale of a complete Gorgosaurus at Sotheby’s last month has reopened wounds

Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College, told DailyMail.com that when a dinosaur like Gorgosaurus is bought by a private individual, it can no longer be studied by scientists. This is because the remains must be in a place accessible to all researchers, such as a museum.

Thomas Carr is a paleontologist who compared the sale of dinosaurs during the action to the burning of books

Steve Brussett, a paleontologist who hopes this craze to buy dinosaur bones amidst money will soon end

Paleontologists Thomas Carr (left) and Steve Brusatte (right) tell DailyMail.com how these private sales are detrimental to science. Once a dinosaur has been purchased by a private collector, it cannot be studied by researchers.

Gorgosaurus – T. rex—one of only 20 specimens of its kind discovered to date, and the sale of one in July is so damning to science that determining specific traits requires dozens. For example, at least 70 specimens needed to be studied to learn how to identify the characteristics that determined the sex of dinosaurs.

While knowing the sex of dinosaurs may not be important to the public, it serves as a value among the scientific community that aims to study prehistoric history. These prehistoric organisms also played an important role in developing evolutionary theory and other scientific concepts such as plate tectonics and biogeography.

Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College in Wisconsin, told DailyMail.com: ‘[Sales like this] They are like the last copy of a book thrown into the fire – when the skeleton was bought by a private collector, it no longer exists for scientists. Image Everything we know about humanity is just you and me. Clearly, this is not enough information to know about all.’

Carr said dinosaur fossils should be kept somewhere, such as the Museum of Natural History in New York City, that is accessible to the scientific community, experts say, otherwise they are considered lost to the world.

However, auction houses say there is no evidence that sales to private collectors harm science.

Sotheby’s Senior Vice President Cassandra Hatton told DailyMail.com: ‘The world’s great museums all began as private collections, and in fact the concept of a museum was born out of the early modern tradition of curiosity cabinets.

‘These specimens have lived for millions of years, and will last for millions of years; While there is a chance that they may not be available for study immediately after sale, they certainly will be at some point in the future.

‘Private collectors and research institutions can benefit from each other in ways that are necessary for the long-term preservation of fossil specimens and to raise awareness, as well as to educate the public about dinosaurs.’

Sue, Stan and Big John: ‘Celebrity’ dinosaurs sold for skyrocketing prices

Sue: T. Rex Who Started It All

The market for dinosaur bones became hot after a T. rex nicknamed Sue sold at auction in 1997 for $8.4 million. It was the first dinosaur to be displayed at Sotheby’s.

Although the lawsuit was purchased by the Chicago-based Field Museum, the hefty price tag opened the floodgates for auction and was enough to encourage the public to search for the fossil remains and sell them for top dollar amounts.

The lawsuit was found on August 12, 1990, on the Cheyenne River Sioux reservation in South Dakota owned by Maurice Williams.

However, it was discovered by paleontologist Susan Hendrickson, the scientist for whom the specimen is named, and paleontologist Peter Larsen.

Larson paid Williams $5,000 to get the T. Rex, but Larson began receiving massive offers soon after the T. Rex was pulled off the ground. After hearing this, Williams said he allowed scientists to search for the property, but found nothing.

Federal agents seized…

Credit: www.dailymail.co.uk /

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