Apex, the largest Stegosaurus fossil ever discovered, is going up for auction

In May 2022, Jason Cooper, a commercial paleontologist, went for a walk with a friend on his property near the town of Dinosaur, Colorado.

That femur led to a Stegosaurus fossil, the largest and most complete ever found, which was later nicknamed “Apex.” In July, auction house Sotheby’s will sell the Apex for an estimated $4 million to $6 million, making the skeleton the latest flashpoint in a long-running debate over the private fossil trade.

Dinosaur fossils have fetched increasing prices at auction houses since 1997, when Sotheby’s sold a Tyrannosaurus rex to the Field Museum in Chicago for $8.36 million. In 2020, “Stan” is another complete D. Rex skeleton sold at Christie’s for $31.8 million.

Such pricing has raised serious concerns among academic paleontologists, Stuart Sumida, Vice-President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Many of them have noticed that fossils that could unlock scientific mysteries are moving into the hands of wealthy private collectors rather than research institutions in recent decades.

Mr. Cooper and his colleagues discovered Stegosaurus in 2023 at Sotheby’s. Excavations on his property yielded several Jurassic dinosaurs, many of which Mr. Cooper has donated to institutions such as the Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology in Provo, Utah. , and the Frost Museum of Science in Miami.

Mr. Cooper described Apex Stegosaurus as a unique and scientifically significant specimen. Skeletons – even partial ones – of plate-backed, spike-tailed herbivores are rare. The bone mound contains material from about 70 percent of animal bones. At 11 feet tall and over 20 feet long, Apex is twice the size of “Sophie”. The most intact Stegosaurus specimen knownAnd has unusual proportions, remarkably long legs and square-bottom plates.

See also  Sources say the 76ers have agreed to trade James Harden to the Clippers

The specimen was found with leather impressions from the neck, which was offered as part of the sale.

Mr. Cooper oversaw the preparation and mounting of the Stegosaurus, 3D-scanning the existing bones, and replicating the model’s components to fill in the gaps. The team also collected detailed contextual data, which they think will be attractive to prospective buyers. Information includes detailed site survey, quarry maps and other documents.

Mr. Cooper also invited several archaeologists to examine the specimen.

“If you combine size, completeness and bone preservation, this is the best stegosaurus I’ve ever seen,” said Rod Skeats, curator of the Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology, who identified Mr. Inspected it on Cooper’s property.

Cassandra Hatton, head of Sotheby’s science and popular culture department, said the auction house asked Mr. He said he worked closely with Cooper.

“This is the first time that a specimen has been auctioned and we have been working together since it was excavated,” he said. “It’s the most obvious sale of a dinosaur that’s ever happened.”

But Jim Kirkland, Utah’s state paleontologist, says Mr. Cooper refused to support Stegosaurus when called upon by them. “It looks very interesting,” he wrote in an email, “but I wouldn’t advertise something going up for auction. I would have connected him directly to museums, but not this one.

Although anything can happen at a public auction, Mr. Cooper and Mrs. Both Hutton expressed their hope that Apex would eventually land — either through direct purchase from a scientific institution or a donation from a private collector. The group collected data and documents not only to assure buyers of the specimens’ authenticity, but also to help museums smoothly integrate such specimens into a research collection.

See also  Scaramucci: House GOP 'damaged our party' with 'extraordinary' Biden impeachment inquiry

“The buyer has the right to come to my property and collect situational information,” said Mr. Cooper said. “A private collector wouldn’t give a stego spike about it, but for a museum, it would be really cool.”

However, the potential price tag of Stegosaurus may be out of reach for many companies, Dr Sumita said. He said the costs of studying an already loaded and reconstructed sample would exceed the purchase price. Reconstruction and mounting of fossils Art as much as science – and may have specific choices Used to deceive the ignorant By blurring the lines of which parts of a given bone are real.

“If that model is scientifically significant, they’re going about it completely the wrong way,” Dr. Sumita said.

Gary Woodruff, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Frost Museum of Science in Miami, acknowledged that public auctions are often “scientific hermits.” But Dr Woodruff – who examined the specimen before the auction deal – suggested that compiling detailed records, images and digital scans of fossils sold commercially is something other sellers should follow. That way, “if the model doesn’t end up in public belief, there’s at least a semblance of scientific data,” he said.

However, in the end, Dr. Woodruff admits that it is a matter of public belief where such fossils exist.

“If a wealthy person is interested in how they can work with a scientific organization to contribute to scientific knowledge and progress, I believe such models will attract their attention,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *