It may not be Matisse or Warhol, but this multi-million dollar sale at Christie’s comes from another kind of artist, Mother Nature.
Late Thursday, Christie’s sold the skeleton of Deinonychus Antilops, one of the world’s most famous dinosaurs after the release of the movie “Jurassic Park,” to private buyers for $ 12.4 million. Auctions continue to sell high-priced fossils. This is a frustrating pattern for paleontologists who fear that specimens can be lost to science if purchased by individuals rather than public institutions.
According to the auction house, a fossil called Hector was the first public sale of Deinonychus, an agile bipedal dinosaur known for its threatening claws. At your feet.. The sale price was more than double the estimated maximum of $ 6 million for the auction house.
Without “Jurassic Park”, this species wouldn’t get much attention. In the novel and the 1993 film, the beast called Velociraptor is actually Deinonychus (the author of the novel, Michael Crichton,). Once admitted that “Velociraptor” Sounded more dramatic).
The skeleton specimen contains 126 real bones, but the rest have been reconstructed, including most of the skull, the auction house says. According to Jared Hudson, a commercial paleontologist who purchased and prepared specimens about 110 million years ago in the early Cretaceous, the specimens were self-taught paleontologists Jack and Roberta Owen from private land in Montana about 10 years ago. Was excavated by. Specimen. It was then purchased by the latest owner, who remains anonymous.
“I didn’t expect it to end with Christie’s,” 69-year-old Jack Owen said in an interview this week. He was trained in archeology and said he worked as a ranch manager and fence contractor.
Owen said he had signed a contract with the landowner on the ranch where he worked, allowing him to dig up fossils and split his profits. He first found some of the bone fragments where he had already found the other two animals. Using tools such as a scalpel and a toothbrush, he and his wife Roberta carefully collected the specimens with the help.
He said it was amazing to see it cost millions of dollars — the profits he received weren’t close to anywhere. But Owen said his fossil hunting wasn’t driven by money.
“It’s about hunting. It’s about discovery,” he said. “You are the only person in the world to touch the animal, which is precious.”
This type of fossil was discovered in 1964 by paleontologist John H. Ostrom. He named it Deinonychus, meaning dinosaur claws, after the sharply curved hunting claws he believed the dinosaurs used to slash their prey. The discovery of Ostrom was the basis for scientists how to understand some of today’s dinosaurs — not like lizards, but like birds. It moves fast, is probably a warm-blooded animal, and even has feathers.
Its scientific development is one of the reasons academic paleontologists may be interested in studying specimens such as Hector.
Some paleontologists have long opposed the practice of auctioning these fossils because they fear that specimens may be sold at museums out of reach.
This problem, bring the action, T. Rex’s skeleton at the Field Museum for $ 860,000 (about $ 15 million today’s dollars) in 1997. And T. After being nicknamed Rex’s skeleton, he recently underwent a new scrutiny. Stan brought a record $ 31.8 millionAlmost four times the estimated maximum of $ 8 million.
Before Christie’s auctioned Stan in 2020, the Society of Vertebrate Paleozoology Prompted it Consider limiting sales to “bidders from institutions that have promised to curate specimens forever for the public good, or bidders on behalf of such institutions.”
“As an organization, we have determined that vertebrate fossils belong to the museum,” said Jessica M. Theodore, president of the association, in an interview. “If it is in private hands, the person dies, their property sells specimens, and information is lost.”
Many commercial paleontologists like Hudson, who bought Hector from Owens, argued that their work was also important to science and that they had to pay for their work so they could continue. are doing.
“If people like us weren’t on earth, dinosaurs would be eroded and completely blocked by science,” Hudson said.