'Stan' the T. rex just sold for $31.8 million—and scientists are furious

A so far anonymous bidder purchased the priceless fossil in October, making waves in the science community

Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dinosaur Fossils

1/18/2022 11:02:00 PM

A so far anonymous bidder purchased the priceless fossil in October, making waves in the science community

The fossil was priceless to paleontologists, but experts fear it may be lost to research now that it belongs to an unknown bidder.

, who co-signed the society’s letter.“The high-profile nature of the auction and the publicity surrounding the auction event were designed to appeal to high-end bidders, thereby elevating the price of fossil material and promoting fossils as luxury items,” Rayfield wrote in an email interview. “How can public trust institutions spend this kind of money on single fossil specimens—money that could fund jobs, field programs, training, exhibits, and much more?”

Other countries take stricter stances on the fossil trade. In Alberta, Canada, for instance, fossils found in the province can’t be exported, thanks to a 1970s law that designated fossils part of Alberta’s natural heritage. Similar laws are also on the books in paleo-hotspots such as Brazil, China, and Mongolia. However, Evans says that black markets persist in fossils from these countries, in part because of the allure of huge paydays. (

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I can’t believe someone actually sold it! What a loss for the scientific community. 🤦‍♀️ It was the “Rock” !!! 🙂❤❤❤❤ Something like this needs to be put in a museum for all to see, not stored in some rich guys basement as a trophy. Fossils and historical pieces should belong to the government or general public at large

There is something utterly wrong in all this; government funded scientist dig up world-relevant heritage and some office-dude sells it off on private auction. How can this be okay? The bigger question, WHO'S SELLING IT 31.8 mil for some bones? You know how much cocaine and hookers that could buy?! That's the evilness of the capitalism. Everyone can own everything if they have the money. Even if those stuff are so precious and need to be open to public or at least only to the research society.

Just your friendly reminder that billionaires shouldn't exist. It’ll be an absolute shame if a specimen like this is hidden away in a private collection. It does nobody any good out of sight. Where would you put that in your home?🤔🤭

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What I bought a real dinosaur I thought I was buying an NFT! In the name of God! Theyre just gonna make it a NFT and double up! Lol Great! If it just sold for $31.8m, then how can it be priceless? never had the opportunity im American so I don't matter. Wasn't it TheRock? Saw Stan's head on the Peyton bro's espn ManningCast yesterday

An unlikely source has revived public interest in the iconic T. rex Stan, but the question remains: Who bought the fossil? PatMcAfeeShow

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Emily Rayfield , who co-signed the society’s letter. “The high-profile nature of the auction and the publicity surrounding the auction event were designed to appeal to high-end bidders, thereby elevating the price of fossil material and promoting fossils as luxury items,” Rayfield wrote in an email interview. “How can public trust institutions spend this kind of money on single fossil specimens—money that could fund jobs, field programs, training, exhibits, and much more?” Other countries take stricter stances on the fossil trade. In Alberta, Canada, for instance, fossils found in the province can’t be exported, thanks to a 1970s law that designated fossils part of Alberta’s natural heritage. Similar laws are also on the books in paleo-hotspots such as Brazil, China, and Mongolia. However, Evans says that black markets persist in fossils from these countries, in part because of the allure of huge paydays. ( Find out more about the Mongolian fossil black market—and one scientist’s fight against it .) “The sale of Stan will perpetuate more pillaging of protected fossils in a big way,” Evans says. “It’s heartbreaking.” University of Calgary paleontologist Jessica Theodor , SVP’s incoming president, adds that auctions don’t just price out researchers—they can shape the hunt for fossils for years to come. After Sue’s multimillion-dollar sale in 1997, some U.S. researchers were shut out of private land sites they had worked on for decades, Theodor says, in part because landowners wanted to sell their fossils or lease their land’s fossil-digging rights to private companies. Paleontologists also saw a rise in vandalism at fossil sites as robbers tried to steal what they thought were valuable remains. “A big sale like this stands to do much more damage than [the sale of] Sue did,” Theodor said. A paleontological plea Commercial fossil diggers in the U.S. have long argued that their business model brings important fossils to light, because the profit motive encourages more people to dig. The most reputable of these firms excavate and prepare fossils to high standards, and they contact researchers when they’ve found fossils of clear scientific significance. At its best, this system can find and protect invaluable fossils, such as the armored dinosaur Zuul crurivastator , which U.S. fossil firm Theropoda found on private Montana ranchland in 2014. Once Theropoda realized what it had, it contacted Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum, which sent researchers to the site and bought the fossil for an undisclosed sum in 2016. (