US News | The super-rich are buying up dinosaur bones – and now they want our near-perfect Stegosaurus | David Hone | Amznusa.com

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Even if you think that’s how markets work, it’s hard to stomach the illegal trade it fosters and the resulting loss to science

David Hone is a reader in zoology at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in dinosaurs and pterosaurs

Last month it was announced that a newly discovered skeleton of the iconic dinosaur Stegosaurus would be up for auction, with an expected sale price of about $6m (£4.7m). In many countries (or parts of them), it is entirely legal to dig up, and buy or sell fossils – including exporting them. However, most palaeontologists consider these to be scientific objects and as such worthy of protection, and would understandably prefer to see them not with private collectors but in museums, where they would be protected and available for study.

Although public collections do buy fossils when they can afford them (the Duelling Dinosaurs specimen recently went to North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences after a charity fundraising campaign), most of them are simply unaffordable. Museums cannot spend millions on every dinosaur skull that comes up for auction, which means that scientifically important fossils appear briefly on the auction house website and in the media and then vanish into a collector’s house, never to be seen again. And there are many that don’t even make it to public auction.

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​ Even if you think that’s how markets work, it’s hard to stomach the illegal trade it fosters and the resulting loss to scienceDavid Hone is a reader in zoology at Queen Mary, University of London, specialising in dinosaurs and pterosaursLast month it was announced that a newly discovered skeleton of the iconic dinosaur Stegosaurus would be up for auction, with an expected sale price of about $6m (£4.7m). In many countries (or parts of them), it is entirely legal to dig up, and buy or sell fossils – including exporting them. However, most palaeontologists consider these to be scientific objects and as such worthy of protection, and would understandably prefer to see them not with private collectors but in museums, where they would be protected and available for study.Although public collections do buy fossils when they can afford them (the Duelling Dinosaurs specimen recently went to North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences after a charity fundraising campaign), most of them are simply unaffordable. Museums cannot spend millions on every dinosaur skull that comes up for auction, which means that scientifically important fossils appear briefly on the auction house website and in the media and then vanish into a collector’s house, never to be seen again. And there are many that don’t even make it to public auction. Continue reading… Dinosaurs, Fossils, Palaeontology, Museums, Zoology, Science, Culture, UK news 

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