The fossil of a baby T-Rex is being sold on eBay for almost $3 million, sparking outrage among the scientific community.
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The 68-million years old fossil, reportedly listed by professional fossil hunter Alan Detrich, has a “buy it now” asking price of $2.95 million. The listing, last updated on Tuesday, claims the artefact is “most likely the only baby T-rex in the world,” adding that the specimen has a 15-foot-long body, 21-inch skull and serrated teeth.
“This Rex was a very dangerous meat eater. It’s a RARE opportunity indeed to ever see a baby REX,” it says. “Histology shows the specimen to be approximately 4 years old upon death. Reconstruction of the skull has been done by Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology (from Natural History Museum in FL).”
Detrich loaned the fossil to the University of Kansas Natural History Museum in 2017, according to The Guardian, where it was still on display when he listed the specimen on eBay. The skeleton, believed to be 68-million years old, was discovered by Detrich in 2013 and subsequently became his property.
Leonard Krishtalka, director of the University of Kansas’ Biodiversity Institute, said in a statement last week that the university’s Natural History Museum does not sell or mediate the sale of specimens to private individuals.
“Accordingly, the specimen on exhibit-loan to us has been removed from exhibit and is being returned to the owner. We have asked that the owner remove any association with us from his sale listing,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) published an open letter voicing “ethical concerns” that “the fossil, which represents a unique part of life’s past, may be lost from the public trust.”
“Its owner used the specimen’s scientific importance, including its exhibition status at KU, as part of his advertising strategy. Only casts and other replicas of vertebrate fossils should be traded, not the fossils themselves,” the SVP said.
“Because vertebrate fossils are rare, most of them contribute uniquely to our knowledge of the history of life. Each one that is lost from the public trust, is part of that already fragmentary history that we will never collectively recover,” the society added.