Apex, the world’s largest stegosaurus fossil, is up for auction at Sotheby’s

Apex, the world’s largest Stegosaurus skeleton, is set to go up for auction at Sotheby’s this summer for $6 million — sparking public intrigue and concern from some scientists who say the rare fossil is a steep sale. Prices can disable research.

Standing 11 feet tall and over 20 feet long, the fossil stands out in the scientific world for its enormous size and its nearly complete skeleton, discovered in a vast rock formation by a commercial paleontologist. On his private land near Dinosaur City, Colo. — yes, dinosaur — in May 2022.

Named for its prominent size in Stegosaurus fossils, Apex is estimated to be 161 million years old. According to Sotheby’s auction catalogAnd about 30 percent larger than Sophie, another notable Stegosaurus specimen on display at the Natural History Museum in London.

Sotheby’s said Apex seemed to live a quiet life; It “shows no signs of battle or hunting-related injuries,” the catalog said, adding that evidence of arthritis “suggests that it lived to a ripe old age.”

Julian Lewis, a paleontologist and professor at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, said the fossil was an “amazing discovery” for the scientific community.

“For vertebrates, preservation of a large portion of the skeleton is incredibly rare and probably even more so for large animals like dinosaurs. Elements are lost through the fossilization process and the recovery process,” he said. “But with such an amazing model, it would be a shame not to make it available to the general public and scientists.”

Past sales of rare fossils to private bidders have drawn Significant regressionEspecially when companies or anonymous collectors pay what some have called Extortionate level prices Rarely Samples. Sotheby’s previously sold a 200-lb Dinosaur rex Go to an anonymous buyer $6 millionIt was very low Estimated value Up to $20 million. In 2018, members of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology wrote An open letter call A Paris auction house A plan to sell dinosaur fossils advertised as belonging to a new species must be halted. It was later sold for more to an anonymous buyer 2 million euros.

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Sotheby’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Diego C., Senior Researcher in the Department of Archeology at the South Australian Museum and Professor at the University of Adelaide, Australia. Garcia-Pellido noted that the Apex Stegosaurus species listed at Sotheby’s would indicate that its species was kept secret. That scientists have not yet had the opportunity to properly study. Excavation of Stegosaurus was completed in October.

“We don’t have a chance,” he said. “Science cannot compete with private companies [or wealthy buyers] Based on getting their hands on a model.”

“In general, I know how much money museums are built for. … Five or 6 million dollars is money that no museum in the world can pay,” he said.

However, many institutions don’t have the infrastructure to display such a large skeleton, García-Pellido added, and commercial paleontologists spend significant amounts of their own money excavating and preparing a specimen.

“I’m not in a position to criticize a landowner who has put in a lot of work to get one of these fossils out,” he said, adding: “If it wasn’t for him, you know what? We wouldn’t have known it existed.

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