Baby Dinosaur Fossil Goes On Sale, Angers Scientists

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. controversy / ˈkɒn trəˌvɜr si / (n) – argument involving people who have a strong disagreement about something

    The decision to turn the tree park into a mall caused controversy.

  2. juvenile / ˈdʒu vəˌnaɪl / (adj) – young and not yet fully grown

    Some juvenile animals need their parents’ help to hunt for food.

  3. unearth / ʌnˈɜrθ / (v) – to dig something up from underground

    Denise unearthed something that looked like a precious stone while digging at the garden.

  4. open letter / ˈoʊ pən ˈlɛt ər / (n) – a publicized letter written for a specific person or group

    Some critics addressed the controversial company in an open letter published on social media.

  5. condemn / kənˈdɛm / (v) – to strongly disapprove of someone or something

    People condemned the company when they discovered that its waste chemicals are drained onto the river.


Read the text below.

The fossilized skeleton of a baby dinosaur currently being sold on eBay has caused controversy among scientists.

The dinosaur bones, later identified to belong to a juvenile Tyrannosaurus / tɪˌrænəˈsɔːrəs / rex (T-Rex), was discovered in 2013. The structure is 15 feet long, and experts believe that the remains are from a four-year-old T-Rex.  Fossil hunter Alan Detrich / ˈdɛtrɪk / unearthed the skeleton in a private land in Jordan, Montana. He lent the fossil to the University of Kansas’s Natural History Museum to be exhibited for two years.

Recently, however, Detrich has put the skeleton up for sale online for $2.95 million. Since its eBay listing, the University of Kansas has removed the fossil from the museum. Additionally, the museum director released a statement explaining that it was not involved in the sale in any way.

Detrich’s decision to sell the fossil has outraged the scientific community. In an open letter, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) condemned Detrich for using the fossil’s scientific importance to sell it at a high price. The scientists are also concerned that the dinosaur will no longer be available for future studies if the fossil becomes privately owned.

Despite the criticisms, Detrich denied that his actions will prevent future studies of the baby T-rex. He claimed that without him, the discovery of the fossil would not even be possible. He also pointed out that he actually let scientists observe the fossil freely in the last two years. The fossil hunter said that he only wants to be compensated for what he has accomplished.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think that Detrich set a reasonable price on the baby T-Rex fossil? Why or why not?
• Do you agree that the fossil may no longer be available for future studies once it becomes privately owned? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think scientists should have a say on what private fossil owners can do with their possessions? Why or why not?
• If you had the money, would you buy a fossil or any scientific/historical artifact? Why or why not?