18.06.07 Dino Auction

June 7, 2018

Dinosaur Sells at Auction Unearthing Ethical Debate

Should a 150-million-year-old fossil be sold to the highest bidder? Or to a museum that can’t afford it?

flip: for the scoop

Wait, I Could’ve Bought A… DINOSAUR?!

  • Excavated in Wyoming in 2013.
  • Sold Monday for $2.4M at auction at Eiffel Tower in Paris.
  • 30 ft long, skeleton is unusually complete, almost 70% whole.
  • May be a new species: major anatomical differences from all known dinosaurs.

who’s lucky winner?

Going once… going twice…

“Scientifically important vertebrate fossils are part of our collective natural heritage and deserve to be held in public trust.”

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s letter asking to cancel the auction.

  • Sold to an unnamed British man whoA pledges to lend to museum.
  • Paleontologists worry science will be priced out of auctions.

Dinosaur sale was totally legal. U.S. laws say fossils found on private land belong to the landowner. But if it is a new species, who gets to name it? The auction house says one thing while the science world says another. Read more here:

Translated in WaPo: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/06/06/dinosaur-fossils-2-4-million-tag-has-experts-worried-museums-are-being-priced-out-of-the-market/

Naming new species is governed by the International Code of Nomenclature, which award priority to the first validly published name, not to the owner of the specimen that formed the basis of that name, the society said.

Still, it”s unclear whether the owner was influenced by the near-promise made on page 51 of the auction brochure.

The buyer will be acquiring the skeleton of a dinosaur which could be named after them or after one of their children, with the agreement of the scientist who formally describes the species, the auction brochure states. One”s name would thus remain forever linked to a significant cultural and scientific event.

by Jenna Lee,