A fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, estimated to be around 66-68 million years-old, is expected to sell for as much as $25 million in an upcoming auction at Christie's Hong Kong in November.
The sale, which will occur on Nov. 30, will mark the first time a T-Rex skeleton is offered at (public) auction in Asia, Christie's said in a Thursday statement.
The T-Rex named Shen, meaning god-like in Chinese, will be available to view at the Victoria Theater & Concert Hall in the lead-up to the auction, before being displayed and auctioned at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.
It clocks in at 43ft long, 15ft high and 7ft wide, and weighs approximately 3,000 lbs.
Fewer than 20 T-rex skeletons exist in the world - most of which are incomplete.
Shen was found in McCone County, Montana in the Hell Creek Formation, and is 54% complete.
"From its surging, bloodthirsty stance, to its remarkable preservation, this is one of the most scientifically studied T. rex skeletons to come to auction," said James Hyslop, Head of Science & Natural History at Christie's Hong Kong auction house. "After the unforgettable, record-breaking sale of STAN at Christie's New York in 2020, it is a thrill and an immense privilege for us to be trusted with the sale of another wonderous T. rex skeleton."
Scientists are in a huff over the sale.
"The problem with treating fossil specimens like trophies or collectibles is that their real significance comes from the information in the bones (from the obvious anatomical features to microscopic structures to even the isotopic composition of the molecules in the bone crystals), not from the object itself," said Thomas R. Holtz, a principal lecturer in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Maryland, in a statement to Newsweek.
"Fossils which are in museum collections are in principle accessible to researchers now and into the future for analysis and study, including types of analyses and studies that we can't even imagine yet. Specimens which are privately owned are not so accessible, and even if they are now they might not be in the future," he added.
When a Gorgosaurus skeleton was sold by Sotheby's in July for $6 million, many experts spoke up about their concerns.
Gregory Erickson, a professor of paleobiology at Florida State University, told the BBC he fears that these million-dollar sales of dinosaurs "sends a message that it's just any other commodity that you can buy for money and not for scientific good." -Newsweek
Stan, the T-rex skeleton mentioned above, sold in 2020 for $31,800,000 in an Abu Dhabi Christie's auction.
"One very important part of scientific research is 'repeatability': the ability of independent researchers to examine the same materials and see if they come to the same (or different) conclusions as the first set of scientists," said Holtz.
"Specimens in private hands might be accessible to one set of scientists (perhaps friends of the rich person who buys it) but are not necessarily available to anyone else to check for themselves. So conclusions based on such specimens are really hearsay, not data."