Rare Dinosaurs Don’t Always Go to Science

Fossils of two dinosaurs fighting have been discovered in Montana about 7 years ago.  Although that part is obviously not recent news, the fossils are actually going to be put up into auction.  No, I am not kidding!  These two fossils are considered a rare event when they fought each other literally to the death 67 million years ago.  The predator fossil has been identified as a Tyrannosaurid with severe injuries that included broken teeth and a crushed skull.  The herbivore fossil seems to be a Triceratops-like creature, with its obvious tank like structure.  It seems that both were somehow simultaneously buried together in some natural event that covered them both before other meat eaters and scavengers were able to locate them.  These fossils could go at auction for nine million next week.  So it really is a sad day when rare dinosaurs don’t always go to science for further study.

Does it seem that this whole fossil thing is all about the money lately?  A rancher named Clayton Phipps, that is known for fossil hunting and even has a nickname ‘Dinosaur Cowboy’, seems to have a history in selling fossils that he has found on his ranch property in Montana.  It started out as an innocent hobby, but when Phipps discovered he could make large sums of money from selling various fossils, this is how the journey seems to end for this magnificent discovery of these battling dinosaurs.  Paleontologists just shy away from such auctions because of the large sums of money that are generally requested for rare fossils like these dinosaurs. Of course some scientists argue that more evidence needs to be obtained to even conclude that is what truly happened to these dinosaurs.  There was one paleontologist that disagrees and did get to examine the fossils a bit, and stated that the herbivore Triceratops-like creature did have one of the predators teeth logged into its neck.

It was found that the Tyrannosaurid was identified as a Nanotyrannus lancensis, although scientists are arguing as to whether this is that species or just a juvenile T-Rex.  But again, it’s very difficult to obtain the information needed because in order for scientists to do so the fossils need to be made accessible to the public.   Since the Dinosaurs are in private collector’s hands, the red tape for them to get through is tremendous.  Phipps said he tried to give the fossils to an American Museum, but they did not bite.  Of course he was asking for 15 million, and that kind of money is not easily accessed for many scientific research projects.  Phipps claims he hopes the dinosaurs will land in a museum that has the funds to buy them and research them.  But again where would such funding be readily available and is this really in the name of science in order for the people to understand what our world was like millions of years ago?

This auction is gong to be a record it seems as well, with the nine million being asked for it of course.  It is going to be held this Thursday at the Bonham’s Auctions house in New York.  This sale is going to feature 70 lots for sale along with the two fighting dinosaurs.  Noting that all the fossils in the current sale were found in the United States, the Bureau of Land Management claims that they are still the land owners property until sold.

When these colossal dinosaurs met, what do you think was going through their heads anyways?  Well, in a recent study the brain structure of a variety of dinosaurs was put together using models of birds and alligators.  Researchers had to use such models, considered close relatives to dinosaurs, because the only other scrap of evidence found was fossilized molds of the large critters, called endocasts, that were found with a T-Rex.  But that alone doesn’t tell us anything about the internal structures of the brain and how they functioned.  By comparing the brains from birds and alligators, it does seem that dinosaurs may have had a brain with six subdivisions, and a cortex which would include the capacity of sophisticated behavior.

By Tina Elliott


Voice of America

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