Rare Stegosaurus Fossil Named ‘Apex’ Could Fetch Millions

A rare Stegosaurus fossil called Apex is well preserved despite being 150 million years old, and could fetch up to $6 million.

When one stumbles upon the term fossil, it’s usually in museum exhibits or news about science. However, a pristine form of a specimen comes to light: Apex, a rare Stegosaurus fossil, will go under the auction hammer with an estimated price of up to $6 million. Despite being 150 million years old, it captivated experts, researchers, and interested collectors as it is astonishingly well-preserved. 

A report by The Guardian said it is the largest and most complete Stegosaurus fossil ever found.

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Features of the Apex Stegosaurus fossil

Auction house Sotheby’s described the Apex Stegosaurus fossil as “an outstanding and robust exhibition-ready mounted skeleton.” It measures approximately 11 feet tall, over 20 feet long, and a femur length of 45 inches. 

The Apex Stegosaurus fossil will fall under the auction hammer in July
The Apex Stegosaurus fossil will fall under the auction hammer in July/Photo via Instagram @mathsherman

The specimen has 247 bones mounted in an aggressive attack pose on a custom steel frame. It also has additional three dimensional printed elements obtained from the original specimen. 

Sotheby’s indicated its estimated price between $4 million to $6 million. According to The Guardian, it may become one of the most valuable dinosaur fossils ever sold at auction if the final hammer price reaches or exceeds the initial value.

“If you combine size, completeness, and bone preservation, it is the best Stegosaurus [fossil] I’ve seen,” said Brigham Young University Museum of Paleontology curator Rod Scheetz. 

The discovery

Sotheby’s chronicled the Apex’s discovery. Excavators found the skeleton in May 2022 in the Morrison Formation located in Moffat County, Colorado. They finished extracting the specimen in October last year. The auction house revealed the specimen showed no signs of combat or predation-related injuries, but it did have arthritis. This became an indication that it lived to an advanced age.

Excavators found the Apex in the Morrison Formation in Colorado
Excavators found the Apex in the Morrison Formation in Colorado/Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The auction house mentioned that they called the fossil Apex for a reason. They used it to emphasize its prominence within the Stegosaurus family and reinforce the high regard for them among other dinosaurs. 

The future owner of the Stegosaurus fossil will get a copy of the scan data of the dinosaur. It also includes a full license to use any 3D data in whichever manner they prefer as well as other scans and molding. These inclusions will keep important information about the Apex and encourage collaboration in future research, documentation, and education.

Concerns about auctioning the Apex 

“Apex marks an incredibly important milestone as simply one of the best fossils of its kind ever unearthed,” Sotheby’s Global Head of Science and Popular Culture Head Cassandra Hatton said. “Stegosaurus is one of the most universally recognizable dinosaur species. Apex sets a new standard for all future discoveries of this magnitude, and further reinforces the enduring appeal of Stegosaurus and its vaunted status in popular culture.” 

Reports from the New York Times revealed, however, that scientists consider the sale a “troubling trend.” Researchers have witnessed private collectors’ purchase of monumental fossils rather than ending up with research institutions. This could restrict access to the fossil and limit research opportunities or future discoveries. 

Hatton and a commercial paleontologist named Jason Cooper are hoping that a science institution acquires the fossil. Sadly, as it will be sold via auction, they have no control over the situation. 

Another paleontologist, Steve Brusatte, told CNN that the skeleton should be in a museum. It should be in a place where scientists, researchers, other experts, and the general public could see and study it.

The current record-holder for the highest priced fossil that ever sold was Stan the Tyrannosaurus Rex. It sold for $31.8 million in 2020.

Banner photo via Instagram @mathsherman.

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