In the market for a beautifully preserved, 150-million-year-old, 55-foot long Diplodocus skeleton? HAVE WE GOT A DEAL FOR YOU. A 19-foot tall sauropod specimen (goes by the name of "Misty"), will be up for auction next month, and is expected to fetch close to a million dollars. But the greatest cost could be to science.
"That is really incredibly cheap if you compare it with a collector’s car," said natural history expert Errol Fuller, who will curate the auction, "and you’ve got a much more spectacular, gob-smacking exhibition."
But auctions like these also pose a spectacular, gob-smacking threat to paleontology, says dinosaur expert Brian Switek, in an email to io9. "The bones are often dug up with no scientific data collection and go to a) a private buyer, or b) a museum far, far away where people can't see the natural history heritage of their own country," he writes. "Reputable museums can't compete, and shouldn't, because the money spent on such a skeleton is better put into fieldwork and staff."
When historical fossils are lost at auction, it's often science – and the public – that lose the most.