The timing of the universe is truly impeccable. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about Sue; the largest and most important Tyrannosaurus specimen known to date. One of the big sub-plots of that article was the auctioning of Sue to the Field Museum of Chicago, who had some….unconventional sponsors assist in their purchase. Since its 1997 auction, the $8.36 million US dollars used to purchase Sue has remained the highest amount ever exchanged in the purchase of a fossil. Sue’s fame as the most expensive dinosaur may soon be surpassed by another impressive specimen of Tyrannosaurus; ‘Stan’-is up for auction.
Discovered in 1987 by amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison, Stan is one of the most well documented Tyrannosaurus specimens out there. The completion of Stan’s remains – close to 70% of all bones have been recovered – has allowed paleontologists to make important inferences about the life of carnivorous dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus. Numerous severe injuries have been found across Stan’s body, including multiple broken ribs and even a broken neck. Although these injuries may have had the potential to be fatal, Stan survived for quite some time as each of his injuries show clear signs of healing. Additionally, some of Stan’s injuries, such as a massive hole in the back of their skull, were inflicted by another Tyrannosaurus. To be clear, these bite marks aren’t proof of cannibalism (there is more substantial proof out there), but rather, demonstrate conflict between adult individuals, possibly as a result of territorial and mating disputes.
The completion of Stan’s skull has also allowed for a more in-depth view of Tyrannosaurus, establishing Tyrannosaurus as an intelligent predator with a highly developed sense of smell and an immense bite force. The research completed on Stan has helped to revolutionize our understanding of the Tyrant lizard king.
Stan was excavated in 1992 by and shipped to the Black Hills Institute of South Dakota, an institute with a reputation for finding large, mostly complete Tyrannosaurus specimens (see: How McDonalds Saved the World’s Greatest Tyrannosaurus AKA The Legacy of Sue). While the original specimen has stood as the Black Hills’ centerpiece since its preparation, replicas of Stan can be found across the globe, from locations spanning the Houston Museum of Natural Science to the Manchester Museum in England to the National Museum of Natural Science in Tokyo.
Stan will be auctioned off at Christie’s in New York on October 6th, a day which paleontologists await for with nervous anticipation. If sold to a private collector, important research could be almost impossible to complete and thus, Stan’s scientific value could be lost. Not to mention the fact that instead of being a prominent display, Stan may be forced to reside in some rich dude’s basement for all eternity. With an estimated price of $6 to $8 million USD, buying Stan may prove to be difficult for most museums. But who knows? Maybe McDonalds will bail out the field of paleontology again.
Let’s hope that Stan is sold to a museum and not some famous fossil collector….
*nervously checks Leonardo DiCaprio net worth…*
I do not take credit for any images found in this article.
A conflict between two Tyrannosaurus illustrated by the, as always, brilliant Mark Witton, found at his blog here
Stan on display at Christie’s found here
The skull of Stan found here
Browne, Malcolm W. “Tyrannosaur Skeleton Is Sold To a Museum for $8.36 Million.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Oct. 1997, www.nytimes.com/1997/10/05/nyregion/tyrannosaur-skeleton-is-sold-to-a-museum-for-8.36-million.html?auth=link-dismiss-google1tap.
Gill, Emma. “Boys Called Stanley Wanted for Record Breaking Attempt with Museum’s T-Rex.” Manchester Evening News, 21 May 2019, www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/boys-stanley-dinosaur-museum-manchester-16307811.
McGreevy, Nora. “You Can Buy This T. Rex Skeleton-for a Hefty Price.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 17 Sept. 2020, www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/you-can-buy-t-rex-skeleton-hefty-price-180975847/.
Smith, Sonia. “Texas Gets Prehistoric With Two New Fossil Halls.” Texas Monthly, 1 May 2012, www.texasmonthly.com/articles/texas-gets-prehistoric-with-two-new-fossil-halls/.
“STAN T. Rex.” BHI/Fossils & Minerals/Dinosaurs and Birds/STAN T. Rex, www.bhigr.com/pages/info/info_stan.htm.
“The Life and Times of STAN: Christie’s.” Christie’s Auctions & Private Sales, Christies, 16 Sept. 2020, www.christies.com/features/The-life-of-Stan-a-T-rex-excavated-in-1992-10872-7.aspx?sc_lang=en.
2 replies on “Tyrannosaurus For Sale!”
[…] about Tyrannosaurus as well; but two of them focus less on the species itself and more about the commercial side of paleontology. In contrast, my articles on Spinosaurus focus on its bizarre anatomy and […]
[…] The other, more disastrous outcome is that the fossil is sold to a private individual, where they are inaccessible to both science and the public. Sadly, this outcome is what befell the fossil of Stan, one of the most complete specimens of Tyrannosaurus known. While the buyer has chosen to remain anonymous, the record-breaking $32 million dollar selling price indicates that they didn’t buy Stan on behalf of a museum (4). This sale seems to indicate that it will be almost impossible for paleontologists to conduct crucial research on Stan in the future. While commercial paleontology is an important element of the scientific field, it has the potential to go awry as was demonstrated by the sale of Stan (for more about Stan, check out: Tyrannosaurus For Sale!). […]