Rare fossils from the age of dinosaurs to go up for auction

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

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

  1. prehistoric / ˌpri hɪˈstɔr ɪk / (adj.) – describing a time in history before something was written or recorded

    According to experts, people used medicinal plants in prehistoric times.

  2. predator / ˈprɛd ə tər / (n.) – an animal that kills and eats other animals

    Sharks and lions are some examples of predators.

  3. erode / ɪˈroʊd / (v.) – to slowly be destroyed because of natural forces, such as the weather

    The strong waves eroded the huge rocks along the beach.

  4. inherit / ɪnˈhɛr ɪt / (v.) – to receive money, property, possessions from someone

    My mom inherited some pieces of jewelry from my grandmother.

  5. rigorously / ˈrɪg ər əs li / (adv.) – in a detailed and careful way

    These machines are rigorously put together to make sure that they work well.


Read the text below.

Two prehistoric predators went up for auction at Sotheby’s in New York.

The skeletons of a Pteranodon and a Plesiosaur both went up for sale — and came with hefty estimations. The Pteranodon that was offered was expected to fetch between $4 million-$6 million. With a wingspan of nearly 20 feet, the Pteranodon is one of the more complete large skeletons from the age of dinosaurs to ever come to market.

Cassandra Hatton, a senior vice president at Sotheby’s, said the market for the Pteranodon is made up of both private collectors and institutions.

“To get something of this size with the level of preservation is incredibly rare. Generally, if you go to a museum and you find a specimen that’s super well-preserved, it’s going to be something on the smaller side. When you think about it, geologically speaking, the larger the creature is, the higher the chances are that it’s going to be spread out, that pieces are lost, that parts were eroded away. So when you get something large that is super well-preserved, that’s a big deal,” Hatton said.

The other highlight of the Geek Week auction was one of the best-preserved Plesiosaur skeletons ever discovered. Known as “Nessie,” the Jurassic-era Plesiosaur was expected to fetch between $600,000–$800,000.

“It’s not enough to just tell somebody, ‘Oh, it’s a T-Rex. And it’s great.’ They want to know: is it legal? Can I get it insured? Can I loan it to a museum? Can my kids inherit it? Can I take out a loan against it? Like, how can I prove that this is correct? And I think because we’ve now had that field merging with the auction world where we do this for everything, right? Like we rigorously research the provenance, we look at the market conditions, we make sure everything – every “T” gets crossed and every “I” is dotted. That’s really transformed the value of these pieces,” she said.

Both skeletons headlined Sotheby’s Live Natural History Auction on July 26.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • According to Cassandra Hatton, the market for the Pteranodon is made up of both private collectors and institutions. Why do you think these groups of people are interested in the predator’s skeleton? Discuss.
  • Hatton said about the Pteranodon fossil, “When you get something large that is super well-preserved, that’s a big deal.” Why do you think she said so? Do you agree that it’s a big deal? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Both the Pteranodon and Plesiosaur were expected to fetch millions and thousands of dollars respectively. If you had the money, would you have tried buying one of the skeletons? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • According to Hatton, some buyers want to know whether the new owners’ kids can inherit the skeletons. If you owned one of the skeletons, who would you like to inherit it later? Would you like to keep the item in the family’s possession? Why or why not? Discuss.