Anyone want to buy a Gorgo?

Sotheby’s is auctioning off a Gorgosaurus. The fossilized skeleton is approximately 76 million years old. The Gorgosaurus, named in 1914 (so before the movie monster), is a relative of the t-rex. About a dozen skeletons have been found, primarily in Canada and the northern US. (No relation to the Gorosaurus, a fictional dinosaur who fought King Kong in a 1967 Toho film.)

The auction house estimates the skeleton will sell for $5-8M.

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Interesting, but without Dave Allen around to animate it I don’t really see the point…

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Thanks but I think my ceilings are way too low.

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Maybe @Pantalones can answer this for me. When I look at a museum dinosaur, what exactly am I seeing? Actual fossilized bones? Resin casts? Casts from dozens of similar skeletons? Guesses as to what some of the bones probably looked like? My understanding is that complete skeletons are rare.

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Depends on the museum. Most do casts of fossilized bones, which are then mounted on metal frames to hold them in place. However, some museums (such as AMNH in NYC) do display the actual original fossils.

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It depends on the specimen.

You should never see displays cobbled together from several finds. That’s not good.

At my museum, we will tell you the percentage of bone to casted material. Our dinos can range from 25-30% complete for early dinosaurs like Coelophysis. to 85% complete for an Edmontosaurus (duck bill dino).

It’s usually pretty easy to tell the difference between fossilised bone and cast. Cast will look overly smooth while bone will look more rough and, frankly, show places where the bones were glued back together. :slight_smile:

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Yeah, this is exactly the sort of thing professional vertebrate paleontologists despise. To quote, “this belongs in a museum!” While a dozen is actually a pretty large sample for a dinosaur, it is woefully small for most paleobiological purposes. While professionals can sometimes get access to privately held fossils their utility is greatly limited because no one can guarantee that the specimen will be available to all qualified researchers for the purpose of checking each others’ work. And of course there is no guarantee that the specimens have been properly conserved, or will be cared for such that they will be available to future generations: fossils are stable in the ground, and they try to break down at the surface… just taking them out of the ground doesn’t mean they will be around forever. Worse, plenty of unique specimens that represent new critters have been ‘lost’ to private collections, obscuring major parts of the fossil record. Finally, putting dollar signs on dinosaurs has resulted in a lot of unscientific, unethical, even illegal collection of fossils and has lead to sabotage of specimens in the field. Generally, although some fossil dealers are careful and reputable, there are a great many unscrupulous dealers who will ‘embellish’ specimens, and often steal them (usually from poor countries). The best assumption when a dinosaur goes on sale is that it is a tragic loss for science, and is probably just the tip of an iceberg of unethical behavior.

Note: we don’t disapprove of amateur fossil collecting… it can be a productive hobby and many amateurs make important finds and cooperate with professionals. Invertebrate fossils are much more common, and their value as ambassadors for science and the fossil record arguably makes the 350th fossil oyster from a particular rock unit more useful to society as a treasured collectible than in a museum. Buying fossils in a rock shop may or may not be problematic: if I recall correctly, no fossil from China or Brazil can be legally sold outside the country. Beautiful Moroccan trilobites can be found everywhere, but you never hear about the dozens of people who die each year collecting them illegally.

As a general rule I would say that most vertebrate fossils should not be bought or sold anywhere. An exception can certainly be made for certain fossils that either exist in huge numbers or which offer minimal scientific value, such as Green River fish fossils, fossil shark teeth, teeth from certain dinosaurs that had tons of them, chunks of weathered bone (“real dinosaur bone”). You should be wary of really really expensive fossils for sale (like this one)… that much money on the line invites all sorts of problems.

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Usually you are seeing any and all all of the above, and you are almost always missing a couple bones. Some mounts (The Chicago[?] Deltadromeus comes to mind) are so much reconstruction that the mount is more for entertainment than education or science.

I must respectfully disagree… many many dinosaur mounts, especially older ones, are composites. I’m willing to bet your Edmontosaurus is a composite from a bone bed. No one wants to mount a composite, and I believe the practice has become effectively obsolete for new mounts, but it still common on the fossil market, where “real bone” and aesthetics are optimized over scientific information.

In short: if it looks pretty, it is probably reconstructed. Many modern mounts, such as those at the American Museum in New York, have the reconstructed material painted a slightly different color and luminosity than the bone, so in most light you can tell which is which or choose to ignore the difference and see the whole.

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Excellent points. And I’ll add that if you really want a life-sized dinosaur skeleton in your house, you can order a cast model from Hammacher for only $120K.

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Does it come with an annoying Irish child?

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No, no. This is a Canadian Gorgo. Sorry.

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No sale.

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The joys of living in the West, we’re sitting on the dinosaur bones. :smiley: Seriously, you can’t build much of anything around here (except apparently our parking garage) and not hit bone. LOL! With the exception of the Diplodocus that was collected and then shipped off to Carnegie-Mellon for fifty years until we got it back, I think all of our dinosaurs were collected by Museum staff.

I’d need to look up the exact details for the Edmontosaurus, it was collected in Montana in the 1960s, I think. Its claim to fame is it has an obvious (and remodelled) chunk missing from its tail, which is likely evidence of T-Rex predation. (Jack Horner still refuses to acknowledge that. :slight_smile: )

A massive bonebed collection of Edmontosauruas was donated to us in 2018, those bones are still going through the prep lab for cleaning and so we can see what it is we have.

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But do we know if that is a baby Gorgo for sale? Cuz even 76 million years later, you go out and buy a baby Gorgo and bring it home, I think you’re just asking for trouble to come knockin’.

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Is that the DMNH eddie? I recall being suspicious of whether that was a single animal or not. However, the 1960s was before the big “build-your-own-edmontosaurus” factory started up, and the pieces parts look the right size to go together. Regardless, that is a gorgeous eddie!

The healed trauma seems pretty straightforward enough for me. Jack is a great guy, but I don’t subscribe to his more extreme hypotheses. There has been plenty of good research debunking his evidence that T. rex was an obligate scavenger. However, you gotta hand it to him, he inspires a lot of good research with his wild assertions, and draws in a lot of non-science folks with his popular appearances. [Full disclosure: I am totally biased because Jack has been very kind to me, and he guided the MS thesis of one of my closest collaborators].

There is, out there on the internet, a pic of me and the DMNH Edmontosaurus staring lovingly into each others’ eyes.

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It is! (Though we’re DMNS now. ‘Nature and Science’ as opposed to ‘Natural History’. Do Not get me started)

Jack is a great speaker. He’s passionate, and we can either blame him or congratulate him for his involvement with the Jurassic Park film (I think he only consulted on the first two??) He won’t let go of that scavenger hypothesis for love or money though. I still want to get him and Bob Bakker in a room, and you know, see what happens. LOL!

Come visit sometime, I’ll give you the tour. :slight_smile:

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If you didn’t keep sending him to the corner to eat his Christmas pie, you wouldn’t have these problems.

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And he’s a good boy too!

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I’m sure he never ever heard that before… lol.

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It’s a fair offer, but I’ll just wait.

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