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Buy Your Own T. Rex Skeleton 131

NoNsense wrote to us about the team-up of and are auctioning a complete T. Rex skeleton. Yes, the opening price of $5.8 million includes shipping of the 25-foot-tall, 40-foot-long skeleton. Cool. I was going to buy a new house soon anyway. *grin*
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Buy Your T. Rex Skeleton

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    They don't ship these things assembled! Now there's a fun jigsaw puzzle!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The controversial issue was the speed of the excavation. Commercial fossil hunters only product is the fossil. Paleontologists are extremely interested in things like the position of the fossil and such. A normal research dig wouldn't have unearthed it so quickly and would have generated a lot of photos of the dig as the skeleton was unearthed. There's fear in the academic world that commercial excavation teams could obliterate information by going on fast dig binges in prime fossil sites.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder how much a complete fossil of Mary Annings would go for on Ebay?


  • The same person that bought the Soviet Submarine []?

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?
  • :) Windows 1.03, on six 5+1/4" floppies, right?

    Oh man, that was cool, it supported *EGA*, you could have 16 colors, for the first time, just like the Commodore 64 always did.

    The sad thing is, Write didn't change significantly from Windows 1.03 to windows 3.10.

    (You could still open the same files in each one, the addition was OLE in Windows 3.x, and that was more of a global Windows thing than a Write feature)
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • So, can we swap VA or RHAD stock for it?

    Finally a good place to invest those IPO dollars.
  • The auction of these rare specimens to the highest bidder is disgusting. TRex specimens are incredibly rare and are of profound scientific interest. The skeleton should be held in trust by the US government, preserved for scientic inquiry by paleotologists, and then displayed for the public.
  • > The dangers posed by one of the few skeletons in existance vanishing into the home of some mega-wealthy moron who wouldn't know the difference between a dinosaur and a dog, are frightening.

    Hey, I'm one of those mega-wealthy morons now (thank you IPO money!). Show some respect or my foot soldiers will destory you.. :)

    Seriously though, relax. It would take whole new levels of rich and moron to buy something like that for an conversation peice. You could get some serious fine art for 5.8 million and that stuff actually appreciates..

    Mind you, if you hired some sculpture wiz, it could make a pretty rad throne.

  • I'll start with Marc Bolan, stand him up in
    my dining room...
  • I think it would make the perfect mascot for the Mozilla project.


  • Full MARX for crap puns.
  • Oh yes! Lets create more laws! Thats exactly what we need! Now its illegal to own dinosaur skeletons because some pompous bastard deemed it so!

    Please, what you want to happen should not be made into a law prohibiting things you don't like. Im sure many people wouldn't like it if it _does_ go to some rich guy's house, but we all don't suggest making it against the law.

  • If I owned a building, I'd buy it and set it up in the lobby. I dont mean a small building, I mean a building where there is lots of people to come and see it.
  • by buffy ( 8100 )
    I've never posted one of these, and this is an honest question: why is this posted to slashdot? Not quite what I consider "news for nerds," but I admit that is only my opinion, and I'm often wrong.

  • The one thats up for auction is one of the original copies. The US Gov. has the first one. I like that term "original copy." Kinda neat.
  • Several years ago, there was a T. rex fossil (Nicknamed "Sue") unearthed by the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research. The fossil was the largest and most complete T. rex skeleton ever found, and it became the center of a fierce legal battle that raised questions over such issues as legal aspects of collecting fossils and the possible of a specimen to science. The T. rex was eventually auctioned off by Sotheby's, to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for over 8 million dollars.

    For a little background on sue, here's a link [] to a little piece at The Why Files.

  • I don't have a problem with this. I don't care if someone buys this thing just to make Jurassic* soup.

    Working hard or just being lucky has it's benefits. I don't see this as some grand plot to obfuscate history and hoard all fossils away from the view of the general public.

    This smacks of the people who say that a certain former CEO has amassed an immorally large fortune. The method by which he gained that fortune aside, being rich isn't some mortal sin nor is it wrong to buy expensive things.

    If you don't think that such a relic should be in the hands of a private collector or individual, form a group to solocit donations and if you can raise enough money to buy it give it to a museum.

    Put up or shut up.

  • I've never posted one of these, and this is an honest question: why is this posted to slashdot?

    Because it's funny. Laugh. Or else Dino here will bite your leg off.

    Seriously, I assume it was posted because Hemos thought it was funny, and because it is science-related, and quite possibly because Hemos thought it would stimulate some interesting discussion.


  • It's not the first time owner Alan Detrich has tried to unload the T. rex over the Internet. He offered it on eBay in July, but the auction was canceled after several illegitimate bids by teen-age pranksters. The highest bid during that sale -- $8 million -- was a fake.

    So now he tries the same thing via a more legitimate auction site.

    Well, twenty four days, five hours to go. I hope he has the same number of bids as he does right now [2:00 p.m. (CST)], that is exactly zero.

  • Although I can't say that I know how to get it started. That said, I for one would chip in to the bidding process if I could make sure that a) all my money went toward the bid, and b)we could find and agree on a museum which would like to house and display the darn thing.

    It's a sad day when science for the rest of us has to take a back seat to bidding just for one of us -- I mean, them, with the them being the gazillionairs who might join in this stupid play for the most unique collectable items

    Personally I hope the person(s) who put this thing up for bid don't get any takers at their asking price and have to not only eat crow but work on selling it to a university or museum where it can do some good.

  • He's dead jim.
  • maybe discovery zone or somesuch will buy it, make casts o' the parts, and start selling kits.
  • The original poster made no such claim that the skeleton should be confiscated by the government, he simply mocked the system that enabled an idiot to lay claim to a scientific and historical treasure.

    Any large university or museum of natural history would have quite gladly eaten the cost of excavating this skeleton for the rights to display and study it. And the grad students doing the excavating would be more skilled and careful with the thing than this guy and his workers, because they actually understand its value beyond a quick buck on ebay. I mean, what the hell do you think museums do?

    OH, but that's right, in your free market religion the value of everything can be quantified by who ever is willing and capable of paying for it. It's worth 5.8 million as a status symbol in some parasite's mansion, never mind the fact that it's value would be greater if it were accessable to all in a public museum. Money is the token of decision making authority, and the basis of all ethical behavior.
  • After all, he said, he spent more than $250,000 of his own money unearthing the dinosaur. And he'll give 10 percent of the proceeds to the owners of the cattle ranch where the rock-encased skeleton was found, he said.

    What a nice guy. I wonder if he accurately represented the value to this skeleton to the owners of the cattle ranch before he unearthed it.

    I also wonder if they could have made more by dealing with a museum or university directly, which would have ensured that all people could experience the value of such a treasure.
  • The thing that has me scratching my head is why someone wants the bones at all?

    Now, most people are saying "mount it in my living room / lobby / whatever.."

    Here is a dirty little secret: all those skeletons you see in the museum? some are the real deal, but a lot of em are just Castings. Thats correct, a lot of those towering, impressive skeletons you see are actually hollow fiberglass, cast from the real bones, and painstakingly painted to look just like the real thing.

    So it seems to me that you should be really interested in getting a Casting of this skeleton, rather than the skeleton itself. Cripes, those things are made of ROCK. they are Heavy.

    Give the boys in the lab coats the real thing, give me a casting.

  • They don't just grow on trees

    no, you have to dig for them. They do, however, "just sit in the dirt".

    Maybe if paleontologists realized how much they could get for a skeleton, we'd have a lot more diggers. I don't see a problem with the sale, but then again, I buy old dinosaur all the time to power my car.
  • Does anyone have details about the regulations or state of affairs concerning the discovery of archeological finds on private lands in other countries?

    I believe the way it is in England is that anything that is deemed to have been buried deliberately (say a pot of roman coins) is deemed "Treasure Trove", which means that the state/government can choose to take it from you if it's thought to be historically significant, but they do have to compensate you at some sort of fair (market?) rate.
  • I saw a TV program the other day where they showed a "pickled" Tasmanian tiger cub that was collected before they went extinct (unless, in fact, they're not!). I'm assuming there must be some pretty good DNA there...

    Not as impressive as cloning a Mammoth, perhaps, but they were pretty neat looking animals, and bringing *anything* back from the dead would be pretty amazing really!
  • by dallas ( 38374 )
    This would be fun to have around Halloween.
    You could put it in your front yard, and use it to
    scare all the little kids.
    Because then they would drop their candy, and go
    off screaming, and you would get candy without
    knocking on doors! I need one.
  • Yeah I wish they'd hurry up and quit STALIN on getting that tomb for sale!
    Sorry, couldn't resist.
  • Eye's already gots one! Made it myself from old car parts outa ma cusins junk jard. Ya'll mighta seen it out sides the roadways there by my fence. It looks a right perty standin on top of ma wifes old Ford Pinto. Thems was good cars ya know.
    Heck ya aint gota be rich t aowns a dinosar. Thems the way we does thing out here in Oklahoma.
  • by Gyver ( 62682 )
    I bet your loads of fun at parties aren't ya. Do you bring Mr. Microphone too.
  • Well, I wish you people would quite RUSSIAN everybody to do stuff

    (if you couldn't resist, neither could i)
  • After all, he said, he spent more than $250,000 of his own money unearthing the dinosaur. And he'll give 10 percent of the proceeds to the owners of the cattle ranch where the rock-encased skeleton was found, he said.

    and the starting price is $5.8 mill

    20x money if somebody actually buys it (of course thats quick math and neglecting things like auction fees and taxes and shipping (because the seller is paying shipping), but still thats almost as good as doing a linux related IPO)

  • no no no, not super glue

    bondo and duct tape (fixes everything that a hammer won't)
  • ...make some high quality molds of the whole thing. Then sell the reproductions to geeks like me who would love to have a full sized T-Rex, but can only afford a $999.99 T-Rex replica.

    It would still be the coolest thing!
  • It would make a pretty bad-ass lawn ornament for Halloween... :-)
  • This would go great in my collection of prehistoric artifacts. I will most likely put it next to my life size wax statue of Janet Reno. It also would look great next to my fully functional Cray-3. I just wish they would put Lenin's Tomb up for auction - I would grab that in a heart beat ;)
  • "Well, now that you mention it..."

  • Michael Jackson??
  • I actually have a half skeleton set at home ... full skull and vertebrae, half set of all other bones - medical students sell and resell sets such as these for anatomy study, most are sourced from india, one of the few countries that allow the export of human bones
  • What about this.. YOU find a fossil in your backyard. A HUGE one, worth a lot of money. You descide that it would be a good idea to dig this thing up. You do so. Now what do you do with it? You are all worried that he will sell it to somone that won't have anything to do with it, and "hide" it from the public. But what is this guy going to do with it? He has to get rid of it. You have no place to store, or display this fossil that you just dug up. So you sell it.. Who do you sell it to? Museum? Actually, I remember hearing about these online auctions that seem to be going pretty well, people are finding places for all kinds of things, not to mention they are getting lots of money for things that they thaught no one would want. What better way to get rid of your new pet? You do some looking around, find out that you REALLY don't want to donate you fossil (too much work has been done on your part allready)! So online auction looks more and more appealing. SO YOU DO IT! Why not? How can it get any worse than you just storing the fossils in a storage unit some place? If some guy puts it in his lawn that is still better than you keeping it in your storage unit! I don't see why the idea of some guy auctiong T-Rex off to ANYONE is that big of a deal to you people. You are inteligent, think of the probablities that some wacko with a ton of money will get a hold of this thing, and that he will hord it all to homself. If somone wealth buy's it, more than likely he will donate it to either a cause, or a mesuem that he/ she believes in, and that they think NEEDS a T-Rex.

    ((I think I have effectively gone off.. I HATED seeing the SAME IDEAS all over Slashdot. Think about it people..))

  • There is one thing that the current state of affairs helps along, that being that it provides capital to discover these treasures sooner. But is that actually worth what is being paid?

    The laws of supply and demand require a flexible amount of 'supply' (expressed through the supply of labour and effort to find the items) and 'demand' (money we, as society, are willing to let our museums and scientists pay). Unfortunatly the only way to 'express' that the supply is too high (the prices are too high) is to reduce our 'demand', which means having the museums and government agencies NOT pay the high prices. Now that's all fine and well, EXCEPT it means the treasures are delivered into the hands of private collections or potentially 'unworthy' guardians. That's potentially hell of a thing to do to such treasures, just to regulate the supply.

    This isn't some hunk of ore. This is a part of humanity's hertiage and history. That it's management has been relegated to the market economy in the US is quite pathetic. I've got nothing against capitalism and consumerism (quite the opposite), but there are circumstances where, for the common good and for the betterment of us all, it has to be limited and controlled.

    This should be one of those times. There should be a better way.

    Just like you don't own *all* the space over your land, you shouldn't own *all* the historical and archeological entities beneath it. ( Not that people shouldn't be compensated if it perturbs their life... etc. )

    Now that I've said all of that, there is one other thing that reduces the negative impact of the current state of affairs. It is possible that in our world when we (expressed through our museums and scientists) reduce our demand, and the treasures fall into the hands of others, we have enough enlightened rich people that it never really falls into the hands of 'the unworthy', but instead is donated or loaned to a museum or appropriate place.

    Does anyone have details about the regulations or state of affairs concerning the discovery of archeological finds on private lands in other countries?
  • Ack! Ok, ok, I've abused 'supply and demand' a bit. I should have talked about 'the current expendetures on creating the supply' being too high... not 'supply' being too high..
  • No NO NO. 4,000 pound epoxy. That should hold it. And "Great Stuff" triple expanding foam spray, for the cartiledges and incase he wants to 'flesh it out'...
    rschaar{at} if it's important.
  • I'm sure that if we used the collective technical expertise of Slashdot, we could easily extract some DNA from the T-rex's bones and begin genetically engineering an army of superintelligent Tyrannosaurs with which to stomp's corporate offices into dust.

    The real question is, what happens if the Tyrannosaurs decide to take over the world? There would be little we could do to stop them, especially since they would probably be flying fighter jets and bombing our military infrastructure. Because of this likelihood, we must purchase the T-rex skeleton and then destroy it. I'm not having no damn dirty dinos taking over my planet!

  • There's a morbid little web site that I've kept in my bookmarks for a while just because I like to pop in from time to time to see what kind of stuff they've got for sale... From their web site: "We specialize in unusual skulls, especially violent death victims and deformities: bullet holes, axe marks, beating deformities, elephant men, pinheads, hydrocephalics -- you get the idea." Human Skulls For Sale [] has some pretty funky stuff that is "reasonably" priced.. real human skulls.. some of 'em deformed from disease.. some of 'em deformed from violence... they have a couple of former stuntman skulls as well as one with a bullet hole in it.. most of 'em in the $300 - $700 range. They also sell complete articulated human skeletons... The most bizarre sounding thing is the "Bejewelled monks skulls from Tibet. Starting at $4000." - I wish they'd post some pictures of those. :) That would sure beat the hell out of those "coffee table books" :)
  • methinks you're looking at the static page, which has not yet been updated...
  • by E_Let ( 95623 )
    This article inspired me to compose a hikau. Here it is.

    Selling off the dead
    Bones for sale! Bones are for sale!
    Skeleton warehouse

    Thank you.
  • To my admittedly limited understanding I don't think that this is a major issue. Paleontologists take plaster castings of the dinosaur bones to study, and rarely work with the real thing. I don't think that there is that much that you need to do with the bones themselves, besides radiocarbon dating, and how many times do you really need to do that to be sure that you're right? The greater loss here is that the bones, instead of being displayed in a museum and possibly sparking a child's interest in science, are going to be a conversation piece at a holidy party for the super rich.
  • To the best of my knowledge, a full T. Rex skeleton has never been found. Any "full skeletons" out there, are partial skeletons, with plaster replicas for the missing bones.

    Yes, I know, the bones on display in museums are *always* plaster replicas (Can you imagine trying to hold up FOSSILIZED bones with thin little wires?). But there is a set of bones "in the back", where the plaster replicas came from. Of course, if some bones were missing from the originals, some fakes would be made to fill in the gaps.

  • IIRC there is only one thylacine that is actually cloneabe as many were preserved using formahide which destroys the dna or something however there is one that was preserved using alcohol which could be used to clone
  • strange as of 6:30pm pacific time i see zero bids.


  • There are many museums for whom a T-Rex would be a marvelous addition. However, their budgets are just too limited to buy one. There are many of us who have become embarrisingly rich in recent IPos. If you can afford it, why not buy it and donate it to the museum of your choice??
  • building the thing could take years! imagine, the guy who buys it onlt has 5 bucks in his bank account after buying it and wants to put it together. so what does he do? he goes to a store, buys a big picture of a t-rex... and, yes, you guessed it, super glue
    now he just has to lean it up against his house and hes set!
  • Someone could really make a fortune selling life like (and also 1/2 and 1/4 scale) models of dinosaur bones. For 1000 bucks who would not buy one?
    I would also like a wooly mammoth kit, but according to something i read somewhere, soon i will be able to buy the real thing.
  • everyone is allowed their own tastes but that is the creepiest thing i have ever seen.

  • Working hard or just being lucky has it's benefits. I don't see this as some grand plot to obfuscate history and hoard all fossils away from the view of the general public.

    Unfortunately there are more fossils held by private collectors than by museums. I like the idea of the full TRex skeleton being sold to a museum because these things are part of our collective history. A full skeleton is quite rare, and it's value to science is greater than it's lobby-impress value.


  • I have visions of a T-rex skeleton sitting squat in the middle of the entry (ok so LARGE entry) of a mansion somewhere. The lady of the house is greeting guests and the conversation is reduced to:

    "Oh wherever did you get one, I simply MUST have one?"

    Seriously though, I hope a museum can afford to buy this to put it on display for us all to see. Having a T-rex in your corporate lobby would be cool, having some lame receptionist try to hang decorations off it come Christmas time would not.

    One would imagine fossils take a certain amount of care and looking after?


    Save the Fairy Penguins - Make a Donation []

  • It's the perfect mascot for Windoze, extinct
  • But isn't this the same thing done with incredibly valuable works of art? I mean, living in New York City, most of the stuff hanging around OUR museums is from private collections - they spent years there, yes, being completely appreciated, and then got shared with the general public when the altruistic gentleman went the way of the dodo.

    I mean, no one is REALLY going to blow 5.8 million dollars on a skeleton of a T-Rex unless they plan to look up at it in awe and from time to time utter the word 'woah' just like I would if I had a Picasso hanging from my living room wall. And I'd protect it too, right down to the bulletproof glass and the 24 hour guard.

    Overall, I think that it will work out in the long run - money for more digs, a happy rich guy, some ranch owners with a new truck, and maybe 50 years down the road, the Hemos personal collection will be revealed, T-Rex, stuffed penguin and all. ;p

    There is no sig.
  • Wow human bones just what I need. Anyways anybody know where I can buy some goat blood and a vail of aborted fetuses? Now that I have the skulls I can almost summon chunticor from fallen Rghangt. So close and yet so far...
  • The highest is at 6,000,100.00 so far..... I wonder if Microsoft is behind the bidding.. trying to capture the entire fossil market share. Or Perhaps some one with a lot of money and a big dog...
  • it is unfortinate that we are selling off rare scientific finds that could help us unlock the answers of the past. selling them to some rich old guy who doesn't give a care about what the just bought but only about the look of his friends faces when they see his new lawn ordinament. its final resting place the mans western lawn where it will degrade into dust and be lost forever.
  • Failure to do so could irrevocably damage our extremely fragile understanding of those ancient times.

    To me this kind of thinking is "think of the scientists" thinking in the same vein as the "think of the children" moaning we hear all the time.

    If you want to prevent "irrevocable damage of our extremely fragile understanding" of history, we should stop the funding of archaeological digs right now. We will be better capable of interpreting the traces of evidence in the future, so we should send the diggers home now. The more traces of the past that archaeologists dig out of places where it's been preserved for eons and put into steel, glass, and wood buildings, the more information they destroy.

    Yes, I know that paleontology and archeology are different branches of science. What I say above about desecrating grave diggers is also true of those who uproot and damage the fossil record.

    Send those "scientists" home. They're really out there digging for grant funding anyhow.

  • Well, I have the first Infomagic "Unix" CD (SLS Linux, 386.BSD, and NetBSD), and the first release of Yggdrasil. And I have a full boxed Windows 1.03. Don't try and out-dinosaur those bucko!
  • Detrichs T-Rex Family, (Adams Family)

    He's' Boney and he's kooky,
    fossilized and spooky,
    In a house, it's kinda ooky,
    Detrichs T-Rex Family.
    He should be in a museum
    Where people come to see 'em
    Instread he says he'll sell him
    Detrichs T-Rex Family.
    (not so Petite)
    (6 Mil would be sweet)
    So get you bid account turned on
    A T-Rex you can bid on
    We're waste'n this whole thread on
    Detrichs T-Rex Family.

  • You know, I've allways wanted a big project... Seems like this is an excellent way to put myself into debt for the rest of my life :) But still, I'd like to think that whoever gets it has some fun :)
  • Yeah, stock options that are worth millions that you can't sell for another year, maybe you can buy it with a hot check, or a coupon.
  • I hope a company is going to buy it and donate it later to some museum. This is done fairly frequently (although usually the museum buys it, given funds by the sponsor), and the more popular the exhibition piece is, the better it is for the donator's image.
  • You've got to start thinking rich! What's the point of being a millionaire if you're not going to buy a T-rex skeleton when you have the chance?

    Maybe they'll allow you to pay in Andover stock?
  • I'm not sure I get this...several places it mentions that the seller is rebutting arguments that it's unethical to sell off a piece of earth's history - and there seems to be a vague feel to the article that it may be unethical.

    What's unethical about selling a piece of your own property? He mentioned that the ranch where it was found was going to get something like 10%. I don't know if he's obligated to do that or not, but he's doing it.

    What could possibly be unethical about selling a T. Rex skeleton? A scientist made a comment about this skeleton "getting away from science" but I don't think that's unethical...just sucks for the scientists. :)

  • SpinyNorman dun said:

    I saw a TV program the other day where they showed a "pickled" Tasmanian tiger cub that was collected before they went extinct (unless, in fact, they're not!). I'm assuming there must be some pretty good DNA there... Not as impressive as cloning a Mammoth, perhaps, but they were pretty neat looking animals, and bringing *anything* back from the dead would be pretty amazing really!

    Easier, for many reasons, too...first, Tasmanian tigers (or more properly, thylacines) only went extinct around the 30's (and possibly might not be extinct; there've been reports since the 60's or so of scattered sightings). Secondly, plenty of material where DNA can be gathered from exists (such as thylacine cubs preserved in alcohol, etc.). Thirdly, thylacines are marsupials--there is a limited time where they are in the placenta, and at an early fetal stage they move to the pouch. (This makes it far easier to raise marsupials from DNA, among other things--a foster womb for starters, but after that humans can provide a pouch and milk.)

    Yes, there's a reason why I use the term thylacine, btw. "Tasmanian tigers" are no more related to tigers than Tasmanian devils are to wolverines or badgers (thylacines are basically "big predator" marsupials with the same ecological niche as a big cat or solitary canid; Tasmanian devils could well be argued to be "marsupial wolverines" and wombats as "marsupial groundhogs" as they are in roughly the same ecological niches). Less confusion that way. :)

    The extinct animal closest to being brought back, btw, are quaggas (a subspecies of zebra that look rather like a cross between a large donkey and a zebra); this is being done largely by crossing together zebra cousins of the quagga that are very quagga-like. This is also, from what I've read, one of the possible tacks that may be taken to breed mammoths (artificially inseminating an Asian elephant with mammoth sperm, giving birth to mammoth-elephant babies, and breeding from there to get animals closer to mammoths). Just FWIW...

  • Some anonymous coward dun said:

    Considering that Toronto's basketball team's mascot is a T-Rex, this would make a great courtside attraction. Maybe add some animatronics and soundeffects. I can really imagine this thing leading the cheer of "weeee willll weeee willll rock you!".

    Well...I was under the impression Toronto's mascot was a dromaeosaur rather than a tyrannosaur :) (If you notice, the mascot DOES have a sickle claw, and "'raptor" is a slang name for dromaeosaurs.)

    Though getting a little tyrannosaur like, oh, Nanotyrannus (which just got proved to be a separate species, btw--more on this below) and somehow genetically engineering its skin to be purple would be probably more acceptable to the sponsors, since we now know dromaeosaurs have feathers. :)

    Seriously, though, to get back onto the thread...oddly, the very fossils that proved that dromaeosaurs are feathered and Nanotyrannus isn't actually a baby tyrannosaur are examples of why it is probably a Bad Thing [if you happen to be a paleontologist] to see stuff like T. rex skeletons sold on Ebay. (Even more ironically, the fossil that proved Nanotyrannus wasn't a T. rex is in fact a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex found along with Nanotyrannus teeth, among other things...more info is here [].) It's possible that if, say, the "kid rex" skeleton or the skeleton of Sinosauropteryx [the first feathered non-avian dinosaur skeleton] or Sinornithosaurus [the first feathered dromaeosaur find--terribly important] were sold to a collector-market and sold on Ebay instead of studied by paleontologists we wouldn't know of them (and the Chinese fossils DID almost suffer that fate--they were discovered by paleontologists when a Chinese peasant tried to sell them part of the fossils as curios!)...

  • In any other country in the world, this would be treated as a relic that would at least fall under government regulation. ( It's ironic that encryption products and supercomputers are more tightly regulated than nearly irreplacable artifacts). This T-Rex skeleton is one of the most complete in the world ( if no the most) and has immense scientific value.

    Although I don't think the government should have a monopoly on the fossil business, there needs to be better cooperation between scientists and collectors. Though it is unlikely that this particular fossil will ever be lost tract of, there are many other that are.

  • Or you can give your dog something to chew on.
  • I think one of the microsoft millionaires retired to search for stuff like this. Might be something for him.
  • If you want to prevent "irrevocable damage of our extremely fragile understanding" of history, we should stop the funding of archaeological digs right now. We will be better capable of interpreting the traces of evidence in the future, so we should send the diggers home now. The more traces of the past that archaeologists dig out of places where it's been preserved for eons and put into steel, glass, and wood buildings, the more information they destroy.

    First of all, archaeologists are keenly aware of the destructive nature of a dig. However, the technology is not going to be improved unless digs do occur. I believe archaeologists do in fact leave some sites undisturbed for future excavations.

    Second of all, the paleontology is very different from archaeology. I've never been on an archaeolgical dig, but I have been on more than one professional paleontolgy dig. The way you find dinosaurs is you walk around a rapidly eroding landscape looking down near your feet. When you see a bit of fossilized bone, you follow the trail uphill to see what is getting weathered out. Most of the time when you find something, erosion is going to expose it and wash it away fairly soon. In fact, it's pretty easy to find bits of cretaceous bone -- just go to the Montana badlands, walk down into low dry creek bed and haul out a few cubic meters of clay-ey dirt. Wash it in a fine screen box, then carefuly pick through the gravel. Chances are you'll find at least a few tiny splinters of dinosaur bone that have been eroded from somewhere upstream. An expert can even give an educated guess as to what species they come from, but it isn't the same as having an intact skeleton to study.

    Proper excavation preserves what will be totally lost to science. Putting important specimens in private collections also makes them lost to science. It isn't the glory of the discoverer that is undermined -- it is access by researchers and graduate students.

    Send those "scientists" home. They're really out there digging for grant funding anyhow.

    This is a particularly odious form of sophistry called "poisoning the well". Researchers are complaining about dinosaurs being sold for money by greedy amateurs, so we'll tar them with the same brush.

    So, grubbing for grant money may not be one of the more attractive features of academic researchs, but, guess what? In the real world, you need money to mount an expedition. You need clothing, tools, supplies, trucks, graduate students, air transportation. You need money to preserve the specimen, ship it to a museum, mount it, curate it, and protect it from harm. That money isn't going to just fall out of the sky.

    Palentology is about trudging around the desert in 110 degree heat, and spending months doing the equivalent of digging a good sized basement with dental tools. This is not the kind of thing you do for grant money -- there's lots easier ways to make that kind of dough. However, raking in a couple million bucks might make it worth while for the professional treasure hunter.

    Despite what you say, you cannot put somebody who does this, then takes the fruit of his work and shares it with the world -- even his worst enemies -- on the same moral footing as somebody who cashes in by selling to some rich moron for use as a conversation piece. And, by definition, anybody who would buy something like this for a private collection is a moron who shouldn't be trusted with anything so valuable.

  • There are so few T-Rex specimens around that I think the real shame would be if it wasn't made accessible to researchers. As far as being on public display, most museums have a large percentage of fossil casts (reproductions) on display anyway, not original fossils.

  • I think it's Nathan Myhrvold who's the dino nut.

    Gotta say if I was Gates, I'd be snapping this up for my entrance lobbby (like Jurassic park).
  • You can see Sue being prepared for display on her webc am [].
  • As of 9:23 PM EST, 1/17/00, bidding is up to $6.0E6. Just thought y'all would like to know.

    I hope it's some museum doing the bidding...

  • I couldn't give a precise reason, but it does seem sad that this find might end up in some personal museum. I suppose it would be nice if everybody could see the T Rex, but I think it is unlikely that a serious gallery, museum, or city government is going to chance bidding enough to win a web auction. It will either end up going to a fake bid, or to a millionaire who wants a killer parlor ornament.

    There would just be something cool about having one of these bought by a city government, handed over to a sculptor who has done some good wildlife studies before. Before you know it, Presto!, the T Rex is put up in front of city hall in a real-life hunting pose, trying to eat the mayor's parking spot. It would look really great!

    B. Elgin

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Monday January 17, 2000 @11:19AM (#1364634) Homepage Journal
    She became one of Britain's leading amateur paleantologists, when she was older. She sold some fossils (amonites and trilobites, primarily) as a source of income.

    Mary Annings was born in 1799, I believe. Her discovery of the Ichthyosaur, at Lyme Regis, was in 1811. As for what she's doing now, not a lot, I'd guess. :)

    All of her discoveries were made at the beach of Lyme Regis, which has blue-green mud cliffs. These cliffs house an amazing collection of fossil treasures, but are extremely dangerous to approach. (Mud slides are frequent - as in every few minutes.) However, this has the advantage that new fossils are forever being brought out to the surface. It's a rare day that you can't walk along the beach and find a hundred or so fossils of every kind. And there's always that chance that yet another new species is in there, somewhere, waiting to be found.

    Some resources on Mary Annings:

  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) on Monday January 17, 2000 @10:14AM (#1364635) Homepage Journal
    I saw this posted on some news site this morning and turned my head in disgust. Do you know how many museums there are that could use something like this? I've seen only a couple T-Rex's in my life, one in Pittsburgh and one in Washington (I think.)

    They don't just grow on trees, and I remember what I thrill it was as a kid to look up and see one. Everybody should have a chance to see our natural heritage.

    I just hope that whoever buys this has the sense to put it on public display, and that money made on this auction goes toward paleontology and natural history research.

  • by RuntimeError ( 132945 ) on Monday January 17, 2000 @10:58AM (#1364636)
    I was disgusted to here about the trade in T-Rex bones. Because of poaching, the T-Rex species is nearing extinction. There are only a handful of animals in the wild, and captive breeding programmes have thus far been highly unsuccessful.

    How dare the millionaires blatantly violate the CITES - Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species. Just because they have lots of dough, they think they have the right to drive all the wild animals to extinction.

    I think we have to take a stand on issues like this. The US government should ban the import/export of T-Rex bones, and those break the law should punished severely.

    If we don't act now, the T-Rex might just disappear from the face of the earth.

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Monday January 17, 2000 @10:13AM (#1364637) Homepage Journal
    Anyone want to do a spoof of the final scenes in The Prisoner? :)

    Seriously, I don't know if this is good or not. On the plus side, it opens the door to amateur paleantologists in a way we've not seen since Mary Annings.*

    On the down side, I doubt this'll end up in any amateur's collection. More than likely, some CEO somewhere will adorn the entrance hall to their multi-million dollar mansion with this skeleton, as a talking piece.

    T. Rex is -not- common, and complete T. Rex skeletons are extremely rare. The dangers posed by one of the few skeletons in existance vanishing into the home of some mega-wealthy moron who wouldn't know the difference between a dinosaur and a dog, are frightening. Such deals -should- be actively discouraged or even prohibited. Failure to do so could irrevocably damage our extremely fragile understanding of those ancient times.

    *For those who don't know, Mary Annings was a 12-year old who liked discovering entirely new species of dinosaur, for the fun of it. She's credited with the discovery of three entirely new species, and probably had one of the most extensive collections of fossils ever assembled outside of a national museum.

  • Some anonymous coward dun said:

    Might there be *any* dinosaur DNA that managed to stay intact over 65e6 years? Frozen in ice? Sealed in amber (well, at least a piece of dino flesh or egg)? The problem, unlike incubating the Wolly Mammoth clone inside an elephant, is that what similar lifeform is there to implant the cloned dino into?

    Barring some miracle (finding some huge tick in amber that was drinking away on a tyrannosaur or deinonych), it's rather unlikely we'll ever find dinosaur DNA from fossils. (Pity too--then it could probably be proven for certain just how close Archaeopteryx and Deinonychus were, and more importantly, how closely related both are to modern birds.)

    For starters, most of the fossils like the frozen mammoths and Neandertal skeletons from which DNA has been extracted are actually still bone--they've not been replaced by minerals yet, which isn't the case with dino bones or really ANY remains older than the Ice Age for that matter. (If memory serves, the Australopithecus remains are right at that line where stuff starts turning to rock...pity, because it'd be really nice to get some australopithecine DNA to see how chimplike it was [possibly even enough to prove humans are basically nekkid chimps with big heads who can't walk properly :)]...or to see just what it was genetically that made Australopithecus different enough from other apes to go on the evolutionary path it did)

    About the only real chance to find dino DNA is in amber from ticks, and even then it is probably so degraded as to be useless...dinos in ice, one can forget, unless one is talking about very recent remains that we tend to call birds :)

    And speaking of birds, dinosaurs, and the tricks to raise them...I'll touch on that below. ;)

    The oldest, most primitive, and least evolved lizards of any size that are still about are some crocodiles.

    I have some nitpicks, but some can be excused as crappy American education ;) Anyhoo...

    Nitpick the First: Crocs aren't lizards. Crocodilians, along with thecodonts [the ancestral archosaurs, now extinct], pterosaurs, and dinosaurs [including birds--most paleontologist agree birds are a subclass of theropod dinosaurs--this is going to be important in a few, so remember that little fact] are in a class called Archosauria and in fact are only slightly more related to lizards than mammals and their ancestors, thecodonts, are. (The line that led to "mammal-like reptiles" and theraspids [including mammals] split from diapsids [the line that led separately to lizards and archosaurs] shortly after reptiles in general evolved from amphibians; turtles then probably split first, then lizards, and archosaurs went their merry way shortly after). This one, I'l lgive you, because (thanks to certain fundamentalist groups in the US who shan't be mentioned who tend to throw massive hissy fits whenever evolution is mentioned in the schools) this isn't typically taught outside of paleontology books. :)

    Nitpick the Second: Crocs aren't primitive. Protocrocs split off from the main line of archosaur evolution close to the same time as dinosaurs and pterosaurs did, and crocodilians are amazingly adapted to being water predators. (Early crocs were far more gracile, stood more erect, and could even have had roughly the metabolism of monotreme mammals; yes, cold-bloodedness in crocs is thought now to be a secondary trait. The crocodilian cardiovascular system is now recognised as being possibly one of the most advanced, period; it allows crocs to go into suspended animation, among other things, and is again adapted to the crocodilian role as a water predator. These are pretty much the crocs that have survived; many early ones were ground-runners, and are now extinct.) I may give this to you if you don't have the Discovery Channel or somesuch; there was a very good show on crocs that explains just how completely they are adapted as water predators and how much they've changed from early crocs.

    Nitpick the Third: Crocs aren't even the most closely related animals to dinosaurs, most likely. (Remember, crocs are very derived, among other things.) The closest group to many dinosaurs is Aves, that is, fact, feathered dinosaurs have been found, and most paleontologist agree that dinosaurs never went extinct completely at all but that a group of small, toothless theropods adapted for flight survived that we today call birds and that Aves should probably be sunk into either a group in the Dinosauria or even as a subgroup of theropods.

    The fact that Dinosauria is a pretty big clade in and of itself (probably as big as mammals at its peak), and further considering that there were possibly groups that gave live birth (this has been theorised for the big sauropods) as well as laid eggs makes things just a bit difficult. The fact that--in essence--what happened to dinosaurs would be equivalent to all species of mammals other than insectivorous bats becoming extinct and evolving into a plethora of bat species over 65 million years also makes things difficult, if you don't want to raise theropods.

    In a way, the fact that most dinos DID lay eggs makes things a bit easier; embryo transfer has been done with both bird eggs and crocodilian eggs, and people have successfully clutched croc-eggs (you don't so much need a mom as an incubator) and foster-mom birds have clutched and reared birds in past. Also (surprisingly) even with big Mesozoic dinos, eggs haven't been found that are larger than ostrich eggs (not even for big theropods--it's thought dinosaur babies grew VERY fast, like birds now).

    Probably the easiest dinosaurs to raise (were we able to (miracle of miracles) find enough DNA to sequence and end up with something that wouldn't be some gelatinous lump with wings growing out of its deformed head) would be theropods. First off, a subgroup of theropods survives (birds); secondly, recent fossil evidence shows at least advanced Cretaceous-era theropods had hard-shelled eggs like birds and clutched eggs in similar fashion to large birds (an oviraptorid nest has been found with momma-oviraptor brooding her eggs); thirdly, (modern) theropods have been reared without any theropodian mom at all (condors have been reared with hand-puppets and incubated to hatch eggs; the main thing you have to watch for in birds and similar species is imprinting, where they think the first object they see is Mom, which is important if you want to eventually raise baby dinosaurs).

    Knowing whether theropod eggs are closer to bird-eggs or croc-eggs is important--croc eggs have to be kept moist and CANNOT be turned, while most bird-eggs mostly have to be kept warm and MUST be turned every so often. It'd also be good to know the optimum temperature range, which would probably require guesswork; croc sexing is dependent on temperature, as is sexing in many kinds of birds including turkeys. (Yes, this is true even though birds have sex-determining chromosomes [which actually work exactly the reverse of ours--ZZ is male, ZW is female]. But then again, there are cases in humans of folks with one set of chromosomes saying they're male but their body developed entirely as female [and vice versa] it's not perfect.) A deep genetic search would also be good to make sure whether dinos DID have ZZ/ZW sex differentiation (we'd then know just when chromosomal sex determination evolved with archosaurs; we THINK it evolved sometime after the ancestor of marsupials and placental mammals evolved from monotremes with mammals/therapsids).

    (As an aside--they don't even know if they can get enough mammoth DNA to clone. Mammoths are somewhat easy to clone, for extinct mammals anyways; mammoths only went completely extinct around 8000 or so years ago and Asian elephants are fairly closely related. Cloning, say, smilodonts if one found a frozen saber-toothed kitty would be considerably harder; smilodonts are fairly distantly related to all modern cats (they split off around the time cat evolution was good and started), and there's no real guarantee that, say, a lion or tiger could carry a smilodont cub to term. One'd have similar probs if musk oxen were to go extinct completely. Fortunately, with some exceptions, most of your major groups of Ice Age animals were closely related to animals which are still around which makes cloning MUCH easier. ;) Cloning animals that don't require lengthy incubation periods in a uterus is MUCH easier by comparison, because one doesn't have to search so much for foster moms and can worry more about incubation and feeding. :)

  • by drivers ( 45076 ) on Monday January 17, 2000 @10:47AM (#1364639)
    T-Rex for sale.
    Naked and petrified.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.