Rare Complete Dinosaur Skeleton Goes Up for Auction in Paris

A unique and fully preserved dinosaur skeleton, known as Barry, will be auctioned off in Paris next month. Discovered in the US by palaeontologist Barry James in the 1990s, this 150-million-year-old camptosaurus is expected to fetch up to €1.2m ($1.2m, £970,000) at the Hotel Drouot on 20 October. With a height of 2.1 metres (6.9 feet) and a length of 5 metres (16.4 feet), Barry offers an exceptionally well-preserved glimpse into the late Jurassic period.

Barry’s completeness surprised experts, as most dinosaur skeletons are found with significant missing parts. Alexandre Giquello, from the auction house Hotel Drouot, remarked that Barry’s skull is 90% complete and the rest of the dinosaur is 80% complete. This high level of preservation is a rarity and adds significantly to the scientific value of the specimen.

The sale of dinosaur fossils is infrequent, with only a few occurring globally each year. However, the auctioning of such valuable scientific artifacts also raises concerns among experts. Prof Steve Brusatte, a dinosaur specialist at Edinburgh University, expressed worry about important specimens disappearing into the hands of private collectors. He emphasized the scientific significance of these fossils and cautioned against their confinement in vaults.

This auction follows a similar event in April when a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton sold for the first time in Europe. Such sales highlight the growing interest and demand for these ancient treasures. However, the commercialization of dinosaur fossils raises ethical questions and prompts discussions about the balance between public access and private ownership of scientific artifacts.

While the auction provides an opportunity for wealthy collectors to acquire an extraordinary piece of natural history, it also stirs mixed sentiments within the scientific community. On one hand, the sale of dinosaur skeletons can generate funds for future research and education. On the other hand, critics argue that these invaluable specimens should belong to public research institutions or museums to ensure continued scientific study and public accessibility.

The interest in dinosaur fossils goes beyond their scientific value. These ancient creatures have captivated the imaginations of people worldwide, inspiring awe and fascination. The chance to own a piece of this ancient world appeals not only to collectors but also to enthusiasts who appreciate the beauty and significance of these prehistoric creatures.

However, as the demand for dinosaur fossils increases, certain conservation concerns arise. Unregulated excavations and sales can lead to the destruction of important sites and the loss of valuable information. Therefore, it is crucial to establish a balance between preserving these artifacts and allowing responsible commercial activities.

In conclusion, the auctioning of the rare and well-preserved dinosaur skeleton, Barry, in Paris is expected to make a significant impact in the society category. It highlights the growing commercialization of dinosaur fossils and prompts important discussions about the ownership, preservation, and accessibility of these scientific treasures. While the auction provides an opportunity for collectors to acquire a unique piece of natural history, it also raises concerns among experts who prioritize scientific study and public access to such valuable artifacts.