Christie’s has called off the auction of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, the auction house told AFP on Monday, days before it was due to go under the hammer in Hong Kong.
The cancellation came after a U.S. fossil company raised doubts about parts of the skeleton named “Shen,” NewsMadura reported Sunday.
Christie’s said in a statement to AFP that Shen – a 1,400kg (3,100lb) skeleton – was withdrawn from the autumn auction week which begins in Hong Kong on Friday.
“The sender has now decided to loan the copy to a museum for public exhibition,” the statement said.
Shen, excavated from the US state of Montana, stands 4.6 meters tall and 12 meters tall and is believed to be an adult male who lived about 67 million years ago.
The auction would have followed the sale of another T-rex skeleton named “Stan” by Christie’s for $31.8 million in 2020.
According to The Field Museum in Chicago, one of the largest natural history museums in the world, it is very rare to find complete dinosaur skeletons.
Most of the frames on display use bone casts to complete the skeleton. The Field Museum estimates the number of bones in a T-rex at 380.
Christie’s original materials said about 80 of Shen’s bones were original.
The controversy arose when Peter Larson, president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in the United States, told NewsMadura that parts of Shen resembled Stan.
The Black Hills Institute has intellectual property rights to Stan even after the 2020 sale and sells replicas of that skeleton
Larson told the newspaper it appeared to him that Shen’s owner — unidentified by Christie’s — used bones from a Stan replica to complete the skeleton.
His spokesman Edward Lewine told the paper that Christie’s believes Shen “would benefit from further investigation”.
Sales of such skeletons have brought in tens of millions of dollars in recent years, but experts have described the trade as detrimental to science because the auctions could put them into private hands and beyond the reach of researchers.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
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