The fossil of a pair of dinosaurs locked in combat has been hailed as a major discovery in the world of palaeontology, warranting an estimate of $7m-9m, according to the New York Times. This would make it one of the most valuable dinosaur fossils ever sold at auction.
However, the sale has come under fire from members of the scientific community, who state that the dinosaurs could be new species known as Nanosaurus lancensis, the diminutive relative of the familiar Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Chasmosaurine Ceratopsian, closely related to the Triceratops.
It could be the case that the Nanosaurus is in fact a juvenile T. Rex and the Ceratopsian could be an already described species, though the shape of its skull and pelvis, as well as an additional horn, suggest otherwise.
"This lines their pockets but hurts science," Thomas Carr of the Dinosaur Discovery Museum told the New York Times. The owners of the Montana ranch on which the fossil was found, and the prospectors, have combined to sell the item.
However, despite objections from scientists, museums and institutions have had their fair chance to buy the fossil, with many offered it prior to the sale. The buyer could still be one of these museums, or a private buyer may choose to donate the fossils for further research.
The record for a dinosaur fossil at auction is currently held by the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found - named Sue - which made $8.3m at Sotheby's in 1997.
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