On June 4th, a well-known French auction house sold the skeleton of a 150-million-year old dinosaur at the disadvantage of the world scientific community. An international organization of paleontologists tried to oppose the action through a letter addressed to the auction house but, unfortunately, the attempt wasn’t successful.
The paleontologist organization tried to prevent the sale of the skeleton
As soon as the skeleton was put up for auction, the Executive Committee of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology intervened. The scientific organization was concerned about the moral consequences of the auction, as well as the great disadvantages brought to the scientific world. Therefore, they formulated a letter to the Aguttes auction house to try and stop the entire procedure.
However, the auction house didn’t have the response they expected. Instead of pulling the skeleton from the auction and donating it to a museum, they found another solution. To take part in an auction, people need a ticket. Aguttes offered the scientific organization a ticket before anyone else and suggested it should try and buy the skeleton.
They fear the fossils might drift away from the scientific world
Paleontologists were so worried because, according to the auction house, the skeleton belonged to an unknown species. Discovered in 2013, the fossils appeared to date back to the Jurassic period. At a first look, researchers thought they belonged to an allosaur. However, further observations proved the species was unknown to them.
The auction took place on June 4th, and the skeleton ended up in the hands of an unknown private person. Fortunately, this person said they wanted to leave the fossils on display, but researchers weren’t too happy. Even if they were on display in a museum, they say private ownership takes fossils away from science.
On top of that, the buyer gained some unethical rights. The owners of the auction house claimed the buyer could now name the new specimen. Researchers strongly disagree with that, since this is the job of the International Code of Nomenclature.
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