1.8 Million Dinosaur Fossil Up For Auction, Scientific Community Decries Lost Opportunity

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IN PHOTO A member of staff from the Natural History Museum poses for a photograph next to the world's most complete Stegosaurus skeleton, London, December 3, 2014.The 150 million year old Stegosaurus stenops is the first complete dinosaur skeleton to go on display at the Natural History Museum in nearly 100 years. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

The triceratops fossil aptly named “The Dragon King” is on sale.  This rare dinosaur fossil is one of the few complete fossils in the world and is going for $1.8 million. The private sale of this valuable fossil has made news across the world with palaeontologists ruing missed opportunities for research.

The 65 million old Triceratops skull was first noticed by a rancher named Ray Novakovich. According to CNN, Novkovoich did not have the means to mount the excavation and the fossil remained unearthed till 2003. In 2003, the final cleaning and restoration was undertaken by Dinosaur expert Barry James and the skull changed hands couple of times ultimately reaching Cliff Linster, an amateur Dinosaur fossil hunter. Linster sold his rights to Brian Lerner and Anna Leong of Evolved Ltd. Lerner and Leong have started to accept bids and the auction is set to fetch at least $1.8 million.

Earlier a Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil had fetched over $12.5 million in 1997. According to palaeontologists Dr. Michael Pittman (via South China Morning Post), the condition of the fossil is an important pointer to its value. If the fossil is 95% bone then it would fetch a higher price in the market place. The other factors like the type of dinosaur, restoration work undertaken and the rarity also comes into the picture while deciding the value.

The Dragon King, according to Lerner and Leong, weighs over three tons and has a fairly complete skull. This makes it invaluable for the collectors everywhere in the world. But palaeontologists across the world rue the fact that it would be locked away from the public domain. Moreover, private specimens are not accepted for research thus making the “Dragon King” merely of ornamental value.

According to The West Australian, international fossil trade has been extremely controversial and smugglers have been punished under the existing laws. Fossil expeditions have been big business sin Montana with dinosaur experts and amateur enthusiasts trekking across the region for finds. Rare fossils are prized both by private collectors and museums. It has been a long journey for “The Dragon King” from a ranch in Montana to an auction house in Hong Kong.

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