Jurassic dinosaur fossil will go up for auction in Paris
A 150 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton will go up for auction in Paris next month.
With an estimated sales price of 400,000 to 500,000 euros ($405,180 to $506,670), the fossil dates back to the Upper Jurassic period and is called Zephyr — from the Greek word “Zephyros,” or “west wind” — as a nod to where it came from.
Workers discovered the ancient skeleton by accident in 2019 while doing road construction on private land in a quarry along Skull Creek in Moffat County, Colorado, according to Iacopo Briano, the paleontology expert curating the fossil’s sale for the Parisian auction house Giquello & Associés. The site is not far from the Dinosaur National Monument and the small town of Dinosaur, he said.
The iguanodon fossil is one of the latest dinosaur skeletons to go up for auction. Credit: Vincent Girier Dufournier/Giquello et Associes
“Luckily enough, a team of commercial paleontologists — people whose business is investing time, money and energy in digging fossil remains — have been able to recover the remains” that were later purchased by Flavio Bacchia, the founder of Zoic, Briano said. Zoic, based in Trieste, Italy, provides tools and technology for the discovery and preparation of ancient life forms and paleontological specimens.
The dinosaur will go up for sale at the Hôtel Drouot, an auction venue in Paris, at 3 p.m. local time on October 20 after three days of public exhibition, Briano said. Natural history enthusiasts will also have the opportunity to bid on 12 to 15 other fossils, including a just over 13-foot (4-meter-long) giant predatory fish discovered in Kansas that lived during the Cretaceous period, a nest of dinosaur eggs from France, and mammoth tusks, he added.
“Let’s say if we do our job properly, we’ll be able to attract enough potential buyers to have small bidding war in the room,” Briano said.
Ethical debate over fossil auctions
Some scientists have considered auction or private ownership of dinosaur skeletons like Zephyr to be problematic, while others also acknowledge that museum collecting has historically included acquisitions from commercial sources.
Fossils on private lands in the United States belong to individuals who can do with them what they choose, whereas fossils on public lands are regulated by the federal government and essentially belong to the government or “the people, if you will,” Polly said.
The auctioning of Zephyr is Giquello’s sixth dinosaur sale, Briano said.
Top image: Pictured is the iguanodon fossil to be auctioned soon.