Tyrannosaurid Skeleton Sold at Auction Despite Controversy

Tarbosaurus bataar sold for £630,000 Despite Restraining Order

The Tyrannosaurid skeleton, representing a animal known as Tarbosaurus bataar (also known as Tyrannosaurus bataar) has been sold at an auction in New York despite the best efforts of Mongolian officials to prevent the sale.  The mounted skeleton, representing a nearly complete, sub-adult specimen was sold for the sum of $1,o52,500 USD, a little more than the pre-auction estimate.  The identity of the purchaser is not being publicised but it is believed to be a private individual.

The sale of the fossil material has attracted a great deal of controversy, as the specimen is believed to have been collected in the Gobi desert (Mongolia), a part of the world where the export and sale of such fossil material has been illegal for fifty years or so.  A restraining order was organised through a Texas court, but despite protests from the judge concerned the auction went ahead.

The auction took place on Sunday, despite the protests from the Mongolian president.  Elbegdorj Tsakhia stated that the skeleton, unearthed in the Gobi Desert, came from Mongolia and that exporting fossils found in the country is illegal.  Team members at Everything Dinosaur signed a petition to try to prevent the sale, but it looks like the specimen sale will now go ahead.  Legal advisers for the auction house – Heritage Auctions, based in New York, stated that the sale did not break any U.S. laws, but the lawyers will not confirm the sale until it has been approved by a U.S. court and the matter regarding the restraining order is dealt with.

A Typical Tyrannosaur Skeleton

Controversial Tyrannosaur auction

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

A spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur commented:

“We always feel a sense of loss when we see such fossil material auctioned off.  Most public bodies are not able to compete with wealthy, private individuals and the sale of such rare fossils deprives the public from viewing these specimens as well as preventing scientists from being able to study them in most cases.”

The sale of this particular meat-eating dinosaur is controversial because doubts have been raised as to how this specimen could have left Mongolia when such activities have been banned for the best part of half a century.   The auction house will make about 15% commission on the sale, and the seller will of course pocket the balance remaining. With a sale value in excess of £630,000, there are large sums of money involved.

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