The fossils of a baby T-Rex are up for auction on eBay for nearly £2.3 million, but paleontologists have condemned the move for “undermining the scientific process”.
Owner and fossil hunter Alan Detrich put the 66 million-year-old beast’s bones up for sale while they were on loan to the University of Kansas Natural History Museum.
The "buy now" price stands at a cool £2.26 million and there are no returns.
The fossil's description on the auction site claims the baby dinosaur, described by the seller as “the only T-Rex youth in the world”, was four-years-old and has a 15-foot long body and 21-inch skull with 12 teeth on its lower jaw.
The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) wrote a letter condemning Mr Detrich’s decision and warning it “may be lost from the public trust”.
“Scientific practice demands that conclusions drawn from the fossils should be verifiable,” the letter reads.
“Scientists must be able to re-examine, re-measure, and reinterpret them (such re-examination can happen decades or even centuries after the fact).
“Furthermore, technological advances, new scientific questions, and opportunities for synthetic research mean that new research often utilizes fossils that were originally collected with other purposes in mind.”
Displaying the fossils in a museum, and therefore “bringing it to the attention of hundreds or thousands”, could have boosted its price, the letter adds.
The university removed the display as soon as it became aware of Detrich’s activities but SVP urges scientists and exhibitors to stay away from specimens “not yet permanently in the public trust”.
The fossils’ description on eBay states: “It's a RARE opportunity indeed to ever see a baby REX, if they did not grow quickly they could not catch prey and would die.
“Histology shows the specimen to be approximately 4 years old upon death. "Reconstruction of the skull has been done by Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology (from Natural History Museum in FL).
“Many of the bones are waiting to be identified, but everyday more and more are being tagged.”
At the time of writing, 1,275 users have saved the page as a "watcher" on eBay – meaning they are keeping track of any developments.