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Experts Roaring Over Rare T. Rex on eBay

Skeleton, likely of a juvenile, could be lost to science
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2019 7:21 AM CDT
This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 file photo shows a model of a Tyrannosaurus rex on display in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, NM.   (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

(Newser) – What is touted as the only known fossil of a juvenile T. Rex is up for grabs on eBay—which came as quite a shock to the museum showcasing it. The 68 million-year-old skeleton found on private land in Montana in 2013 was on loan to the University of Kansas Natural History Museum last month when owner and professional fossil hunter Alan Detrich announced the auction, with a "Buy It Now" price of $2.95 million. "The asking price is just absurd," paleontologist Thomas Carr tells Science. But that's not his only gripe. Carr, who studies the growth of tyrannosaurs, believes the skeleton nicknamed Son of Sampson could help determine whether small Tyrannosaurs found in North America are juveniles or separate specimens dubbed Nanotyrannus. He says the sale could bring an end to research.

Maryland's Society of Vertebrate Paleontology argues the same in an open letter, noting the asking price implies the skeleton will end up in a private collection. The society also faults the museum for promoting and perhaps increasing the value of the fossil "as part of [Detrich's] advertising strategy," though it was reportedly with the knowledge that Detrich "was negotiating with one or more other museums for a direct sale that would place it in a permanent public-trust repository." The museum has since returned the skeleton and asked that its name be scrubbed from the listing, per the Guardian. Detrich, meanwhile, defends his right to sell the object, though he regrets not informing the museum first. "It could have been handled a lot better, and I take full responsibility," he says. (This T. Rex predecessor was a shorty.)

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