July 5, 2024 at 2:42 pm

A Birthday Hunt Leads To The Discovery Of The “Finest Stegosaurus Specimen” In History. What Happens Next?

by Melissa Triebwasser

Source: Unsplash/Lucas George Wendt

Happy birthday to him!

A dinosaur hunter in Colorado made a giant discovery while digging for the ancient beasts, and gave himself a heck of a birthday present in the process.

Jason Cooper, a commercial paleontologist, unearthed the rare find on his private land, all while under the watchful eye of Sotheby’s, who documented the entire process.

The auction house worked closely with Cooper to “document the entire process, from discovery and excavation to restoration, preparation, and mounting, ensuring that the documentation and sale of the specimen is handled with the highest standards and transparency.”

This collaboration, it said, “continues Sotheby’s legacy of pioneering Natural History auctions.”

Source: Unsplash/Hulki Okan Tabak

Known as “Apex”, the Stegosaurus skeleton is thought to be the “finest Stegosaurus specimen to come to market,” according to Sotheby’s, and could fetch between $4-6 million at auction.

And therein lies the problem.

“It is a great shame when a fossil like this, which could educate and rouse the curiosity of so many people, just disappears into the mansion of an oligarch,” University of Edinburgh professor of paleontology and evolution Steve Brusatte told CNN.

Since Cooper found the skeleton on private land, he is entitled to do with it as he pleases, which includes selling it to the highest bidder. Had he unearthed in on public property, it would belong to the public, under US law.
Source: Unsplash/Toa HeftibaA similar issue arose four years ago when rival auction house Christie’s put the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton up for bid, garnering a record-setting $31.8 million at auction.

That skeleton was purchased by The Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, which plans to display it to the public as part of an exhibit slated to open in 2025.

What will become of Apex? Paleontologists in academia will certainly be hoping to see the skeleton in a research setting, while Cooper is likely to be content counting his millions.

Regardless of what ends up happening to this incredible piece of history, we know one thing for certain; it was a happy birthday indeed for this dinosaur hunter!

Thought that was fascinating? Here’s another story you might like: Why You’ll Never See A Great White Shark In An Aquarium