Before humans ruled the Earth, dinosaurs already roamed the planet.
A strange dinosaur skeleton has been auctioned on the ground floor of the Eiffel Tower on Monday. It was sold to a French art collector for more than $2 million but was only identified as a British businessman. Paleontologists are worried that the private sale would restrict scientist’s abilities to study the unclassified specimen.
In 2013, a Wyoming landowner found a strangely well-preserved dinosaur fossil. It is believed to date from 151 to 156 million years ago, during the Jurassic era. It stands 28.5 feet long and is almost 70% intact.
Colin Barras of Science suggested that the dinosaur species could be a close kin of Allosaurus fragilis which is a Late Jurassic predator. French auction house Aguttes described the dinosaur as the only envoy of what seems to be a new breed of Allosaurid. It could even be a new genus altogether.
However, some experts are quite skeptical about the prehistoric animal. Utah State University paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter told Barras that the dinosaur’s different skeletal structure might come from another species that was as well fossilized during that time.
The dinosaur skeleton was found in the Morrison Formation. It is an area in Wyoming where several specimens are preserved from the Late Jurassic epoch. Paleontologists determine the animal has a close resemblance to T-Rex and Velociraptors based on the photos. It was not yet studied up close.
A lot of questions envelop the discovery of the dinosaur fossils including its recent sale. The unearthing of the dinosaur skeleton has been reportedly legal. Yet, the identities of the paleontologists who found and excavated it remained secret.
Auctioneer Claude Aguttes said that the buyer is willing to lend the dinosaur skeleton to a museum for public viewing where everyone will have a glimpse of it. Scientists can study the Jurassic species as well. Even if so, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) is concerned that it will deter prospective scientific study. Last month, the organization sent a letter to Aguttes persuading him to stop the auction sale.
The SVP letter reads as,“Fossil specimens that are sold into private hands are lost to science. Even if made accessible to scientists, information contained within privately owned specimens cannot be included in the scientific literature because the availability of the fossil material to other scientists cannot be guaranteed, and therefore verification of scientific claims (the essence of scientific progress) cannot be performed.”
SVP Head David Polly said that they are worried regarding the auction because of the ethical implications and probable negative effects to the scientific community. The organization is a non-profit group that consisted of vertebrate paleontologists around the world.
A majority of museums and scientific organizations don’t have the means to fund millions of dollars on a specimen even if it’s nearly complete like the dinosaur skeleton that was auctioned. Paleontologists are concerned that the rise in the common sale of exceptional fossils will affect the research of Paleontology. Besides, the private owner of the dinosaur skeleton or any other fossil specimens can pull it out any time from public viewing.