NatGeo article on private ownership of dinosaur fossils

We’ve known OF them,
now we get to meet some of the wealthy individuals who buy fossil dinosaur, mosasaur and pterosaur skeletons for their atria, offices and man-caves. Going direct to the source, one ophthalmologist dug up his own mosasaur which, after cleaning and mounting, now hangs over his living room. “Being in their presence, he says, awakens ‘a very spiritual feeling of connection with the history of life.’” I imagine his wife doesn’t have that same appreciation.

Writer Richard Conniff reports,
“The passion for paleontology among private collectors means that dinosaurs and other fossil giants can turn up in homes and businesses almost anywhere.”

Referencing the 1997 auction of a T. rex
that ended up in Chicago’s famed Field Museum, Conniff writes, “It also left many museum paleontologists fearful that they’d be priced out of a domain they’d long considered their own.” 

A domain they’d long considered their own…
hmmm.

Conniff lets us in on a little secret, 
“the gold rush never quite materialized. There’s a glut of Tyrannosaurus specimens on the market now, and other prize specimens sell only after years of price-cutting.”

Wonder if this article will inspire the market
for dino bones or help depress it? In any case, casts are always available. I have and have had several. They are wonderful, realistic and no one cares if you have one or not.

Back in the day
I owned several fossils that I ‘loaned’ (that’s how they do it nowadays) several years ago to the struggling paleo department at Washington University here in St. Louis. Here’s one, a fairly large Triassic theropod track with nice details. Visitors can see it any time they want, and I never have to dust it. It’s better this way.

Figure 1. A Triassic dinosaur track from the collection of David Peters on loan at Washington University, St. Louis.

Figure 1. A Triassic dinosaur track from the collection of David Peters on permanent loan at Washington University, St. Louis.

Funny thing about discoveries,
once you’ve made them and reported them, you’re off to the next one. So, perhaps it’s no wonder the fossil owners look so nonchalant in all the Nat Geo pix.


References
NatGeo article online here

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