Dinosaur ‘Dragon’ on Sale

BUSINESS

The fossil of a triceratops, dubbed the Dragon King, is on sale with a price tag of $1.8 million. (South China Morning Post)

Use our resources to learn more about fossils like this one.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit—including today’s fun poll!

The 590-kilogram (1,300-pound) fossilized skull of a triceratops nicknamed the

The 590-kilogram (1,300-pound) fossilized skull of a triceratops nicknamed the “Dragon King” is expected to fetch about $2 million at auction.
Illustration by Roy Andersen, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • The so-called “Dragon King” fossil is arguably the biggest dinosaur skull yet discovered. It 2.8 meters (9.2 feet) long, 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) high and 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) wide. It weighs about 590 kilograms (1,300 pounds). Wow! We know why the fossil is so big—triceratopses were great big animals with great big heads! (Learn more about triceratopses here.) But why does it weigh so much? Skulls are made of bone, and bone is pretty lightweight.
    • Fossils aren’t bones! According to our encyclopedic entry, “fossils are the preserved remains of ancient organisms—in this case, a dinosaur. Fossils are not the remains of the organism itself. They are rocks.”

 

 

Click to visit our extremely high-resolution version of this classic Nat Geo map! Map by National Geographic Maps

Click on this classic Nat Geo map to get an idea of what North America looked like in the “age of the dinosaurs.”
Map by National Geographic

 

  • Wait a minute! The Dragon King was unearthed in Montana, but is being sold in Hong Kong. Repatriation is a huge issue in the sale of ancient artifacts—from Hopi kachinas to Egyptian mummies to Greek sculptures. Why is this truly ancient North American artifact being sold in Asia? Why isn’t anyone objecting?
    • The Hopi kachinas, Egyptian mummies, and Greek sculptures are much, much younger than the Dragon King. They are products of human culture, while dinosaurs like Dragon King predate human existence!
    • Critics argue the kachinas, mummies, and sculptures were smuggled or sold illegally. Everything about the Dragon King sale has been perfectly legal. One amateur fossil hunter discovered the skull on his own (private) land, another excavated the fossil, and another cleaned it. The fossil was finally sold to collectors in Asia. (The fossil was originally sold for $35,000—so the $1.8 million asking price is quite a mark-up!)
    • Well, people are objecting. According to the South China Morning Post, “The international fossil trade has become a subject of controversy in recent years, with a number of high-profile cases of fossil hunters digging without appropriate permits or illegally exporting specimens.” Just because the Dragon King was excavated legally doesn’t mean all fossils are.
      • A paleontologist quoted in the article regretted that scientists could not study the Dragon King. “Commercially sold fossils kept in private collections cannot be studied by paleontologists because they can only publish research on fossils stored in museums or similar institutions.”

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

South China Morning Post: Yours for US$1.8m or more: ‘world’s biggest dinosaur’ skull on sale in Hong Kong

Nat Geo: What is a fossil?

Nat Geo: What is a triceratops?

Nat Geo: North America in the Age of the Dinosaurs

CNN Money: How a $1.8 million dinosaur skull went from Montana to Hong Kong

 

2 responses to “Dinosaur ‘Dragon’ on Sale

  1. If Brisn Lernef is involved in the sale, then the fossil is either smuggled or stolen.

  2. My suggestion is for someone to actually look into who owns this fossil. The people selling it, Brian Lerner and Anna Leong, are notorious throughout the artwork for stealing other people’s property, smuggling, and falsifying documentation of ownership. They have been sued many times and the flee from one country to another just one step ahead of the law. They are crooks and thieves and should be sitting in jail cells instead of accepting bids in a piece of property that they probably stole from someone else

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