An unusually complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil has sold for a record-breaking $31.8 million at an auction that has dismayed many paleontologists.
The specimen, officially called BHI 3033, is popularly known as Stan, after its discoverer, amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison, who found it in 1987 in the Hell Creek Formation near the town of Buffalo, South Dakota. The fossil has been located at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research.
The sale price dwarfs the $8.36 million the Field Museum of Natural History paid in 1997 for the T. rex fossil named Sue. The buyer of Stan has not been identified, The New York Times reports.
Paleontologists worry such sales will encourage more private trade of fossils, leaving important specimens off-limits to researchers. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology wrote to the auction company Christie’s in September asking it to restrict the sale to “institutions committed to curating specimens for the public good and in perpetuity, or those bidding on behalf of such institutions.”