On eBay, you can purchase a Baby T. Rex skeleton for $ 3 million. Scientists would rather not.
Alan Detrich has listed this fossil of a young Tyrannosaurus Rex on eBay for $ 2.95 million. (Alan Detrich) (Photo by Alan Detrich / Photo by Alan Detrich)
The 68 million year old remains of a young Tyrannosaurus Rex are now alongside eBay's 50-piece dinosaur play sets and fire-eyed T. rex action figures , The 15-foot skeleton, possibly the only one available, is available for a purchase price of $ 2.95 million.
Alan Detrich, the professional fossil hunter who dug it out, says it's a bargain – "he says – for such a rare find. However, scientists claim that this is an invaluable element of our collective history and a crucial clue to understanding the prehistoric predator.
"The fossil record is equivalent to Earth's memory," said Thomas Carr, a paleontologist at Carthage College in Wisconsin. "Fossils are the only information we have about the evolution of life on this planet."
The debate over the sale of fossils is an old one, even though it has now warmed among the dinosaur relics to become trophies the ultra-rich and famous people such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and Nicolas Cage. The most sought-after fossils are the staple food for auction houses, where they can earn millions. Last summer, for example, an almost complete skeleton of a potential new species of carnivorous dinosaur sold by the Paris auction house Aguttes for $ 2.36 million 06] Son of Samson is a 4-year T-Rex with no reported histology. Would you dare to consider what this invaluable New-to-Science information is worth to the scientific community? I own the world's youngest T-Rex. Make me an offer, Chicago Field Museum. Nano-Histology Is Not 4 T-Rex
– Alan Leon Detrich (@AlanDetrich) April 15, 2019
The price hike makes it harder for museums and public institutions to compete with wealthy collectors. And once these specimens are placed in private hands, they are more or less out of touch with science, experts say.
"The sale of fossils consumes information because it is unethical to examine specimens that are not in public confidence," Carr said, because privately owned fossils preclude independent analysis and verification of results.
This sale is particularly annoying, Carr said, because the scarcity of juvenile T. rex fossils has led paleontologists to fill gaps in their understanding of dinosaur life. He uses commercial fossil hunters as "thieves of time".
"Every additional fossil is crucial to getting a picture of how a young T. rex was," Carr said.
Detrich, 71, who is not A paleontologist discovered the T. rex on private land that he had rented in 2013 in Jordan. In the United States, fossils found on private land belong to those who excavate them. In most fossil-rich countries, such as China and Mongolia, strict laws apply to the collection and sale of fossils. Cage was known to give up a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skull, for which he outbid DiCaprio in 2007 for illegally smuggling out of Mongolia.
When Detrich's experts talked about what he had – the bones of a 4-year-old T. rex – he decided to lend it to the Natural History Museum of the University of Kansas in 2017, near where he lives in Lawrence. He said he believes the public needs to see it.
But last week without warning at the university, he noted the T. rex on eBay. His first contribution emphasized the outstanding presence of the fossil in the school as an important selling point.
The museum quickly made it clear that it was not involved in the sale and that the fossil was removed and returned to Detrich. In a statement, museum director Leonard Krishtalka said that Detrich had been asked to remove references to the university from the list.
The move also attracted criticism from the wider academic and scientific community. The Vertebrate Paleontology Society wrote an open letter taunting the sale of T. rex, stressing that the prize was likely to cause the specimen to land at a private owner who deprived scientists and the public of the opportunity to to continue learning from it.
"The fact that such fossils are a testimony to the deep past of the earth makes them valuable, in contrast to works of art or other objects whose value derives from human creativity and craftsmanship," said the letter. "Anyone who is lost to public confidence is part of this already fragmentary history that we will never collectively recover."
However, many professional sellers of fossil fuels reject the idea that specimens are lost in the private hands of science. Michael Triebold, who has been collecting fossils commercially for more than 30 years, said museums are often dependent on companies like his for their exhibits. He also refuted the idea that specimens should be held in public confidence.
"Copies are borrowed and never returned, copies are stolen and lost through various means, including laziness and incompetence," Triebold wrote in an email to The Washington Post. "I dare say that a privately owned fossil of any scientific importance is better maintained than public trust."
Detrich resists the suggestion that he is only interested in money and has no respect for history. Without him, he said, the skeleton would still be buried under the muck, hidden and anonymous. He said he had given scientists and the public sufficient access to T. rex for the past two years. Well, he claims, he deserves compensation.
Detrich has not received an offer yet, but says he has heard from prospects around the world and some people have even asked for shipping costs. The offer includes an average of 116 views per hour on eBay.
For a man whose goods are millions of years old, Detrich's views on transitoriness depend on: "Billionaires die just like us all. Eventually it will end in a museum. What does it matter if it does not take another 20 years? "