The controversial listing for sale of a rare infant tyrannosaurus fossil has caused outrage in the normally sedate world of paleontology.
Fossil hunter Alan Detrich posted an eBay listing for what may be the only fossil of its kind in the world, sparking major opposition from scientists.
“Most Likely the Only BABY T-Rex in the World! It has a 15 FOOT long Body and a 21″ SKULL with Serrated Teeth!” reads the listing for the skeleton, which Detrich discovered near Jordan, Montana.
“This Rex was very a very dangerous meat eater. 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.”
With a Buy It Now price of $2.95 million, the fossil is not cheap, and experts fear it may end up in a private collection.
“Museums seldom have the budget for purchase of increasingly expensive privately collected specimens, thus making it even less likely that the fossil will find its way into a permanent repository where it can be added to the scientific body of evidence about tyrannosaurs,” said the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, a US professional body, in an open letter.
“Scientifically important fossils like the juvenile tyrannosaur are clues to our collective natural heritage and deserve to be held in public trust.”
The SVP criticized Detrich for the listing and the University of Kansas, which had displayed the fossil until recently, for potentially increasing its commercial value and making it less likely to remain in the public trust.
The University of Kansas Natural History Museum removed the fossil from display as a result of the controversy. “The KU Natural History Museum does not sell or mediate the sale of specimens to private individuals,” the museum said in a statement on April 9.
“We have asked that the owner remove any association with us from his sale listing.”
Professor Leonard Krishtalka, director of the museum, told the SVP that it had only displayed the fossil on the understanding that Detrich would sell it to a museum where it would be kept in the public trust.
CNN has attempted to contact Detrich for comment.
At the time of writing there were more than 600 people watching the eBay listing.