By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
By the time the scientists had catalogued the last bone, they realized they might be staring at the discovery of a lifetime — the 70 percent intact fossil of a carnivorous creature as long as a telephone pole that may represent a new kind of dinosaur.
But that is not all that they unearthed.
Five years after it was discovered in Wyoming, the bones of the creature — it still has no name — have been sold at auction to a private art collector for $2.36 million on Monday, exhuming a debate that is at once economic, political and ethical.
Should the fate of a 150-million-year-old fossil lie in the hands of one deep-pocketed person who happens to be the highest bidder? Or should it be controlled by a museum or another authority who can ensure that it can be studied by scientists and preserved for posterity?
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