Mortal combat: Unique duelling dinosaur fossil could be lost to science when it is auctioned for up to £6m - Science - News - The Independent

Mortal combat: Unique duelling dinosaur fossil could be lost to science when it is auctioned for up to £6m

Researchers fear the unique £4.5m find could be lost to science unless sold to a museum

Science Editor

One of the rarest and most expensive dinosaur fossils, comprising a pair of dueling dinosaurs that died in mortal combat some 67 million years ago, could be lost to science when it is auctioned for private sale in November, scientists warned today.

The well-preserved fossil includes the only remains of a new species of predatory dinosaur, which scientists have only just identified, as well as a large, lumbering herbivore which also died when the two creatures were locked together in a fearsome fight.

Bonham’s, the London auction house, is to put the fossil on sale in New York this November and scientists said that it could be lost for future generations of researchers if, as expected, the fossil is sold to a private collector for the expected fee of between $7m (£4.5m) and $9m.

“They are coming out of the ground and they are on the market. Its survival does not depend on a scientist giving a description, it’s based on whether or not the auctioneer’s gavel is going to sell this to a museum where we can access it and complete the story,” said Philip Manning of the University of Manchester.

“If it goes to a private collection, I will have to unlearn what I have seen... It’s important for it to become available to a museum so that we can study it,” Dr Manning told the British Science Festival in Newcastle.

It was originally thought the the predator, named Nanotyrannus lancensis, was a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex, the largest land predator to have ever lived. However a re-analysis of the skeleton has shown it to be a distinct species of smaller predator, making the fossil even more important to science, Dr Manning said.

The herbivore has been identified as belonging to the Ceratopsian dinosaurs, which include the three-horned Triceratops, which may have inflicted a lethal head wound on its attacker.

The giant fossil was discovered on private land in Montana’s Hell Creek geological formation where many dinosaur bones dating from the same period have been excavated, including T. rex.

It is only the second fossil to preserve the remains of two fighting dinosaurs but this one is bigger and the skeletons of both animals are almost totally preserved, which is makes them so valuable to science, Dr Manning said.

“Being a complete fossil makes it so astoundingly important because it provides so much information on an organism. The only other dueling dinosaur fossils were the size of greyhounds whereas this is two houses having a fight,” he said.

“Some teeth from the jaw of this thing are actually embedded in the neck of the Cerotopsian dinosaur, which kind of indicates that there was some kind of foreplay at the very least,” Dr Manning told the Science Festival.

“Given that one is predator and one is prey I’m pretty confident that these things were not playing...It was a bad day for both of them. If you’re cornered by a top predator you will do anything not to be eaten,” he said.

“In the African savannah today the lions are taking down the big prey and the cheetahs are taking down the smaller prey. Maybe we are looking at the cheetah of the Cretaceous here some 65 to 67 million years ago,” he added.

“Hopefully the scientific significance of this stunning fossil will not be overlooked amidst the media interest of the sale. This fossil would make the centrepiece of any museum and really deserves a very public home,” Dr Manning said.

News
Residents of James Turner Street such as White Dee will have a chance to share their experiences of benefits on a Channel 4 spin-off show
peopleBenefits Street star says mixed-race children were subjected to trolling
Sport
Angel Di Maria
Football
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
film
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
News
newsIn short, yes
Extras
indybest
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
Life and Style
Jourdan Dunn gave TopShop’s Unique show some added glamour at London Fashion Week
fashion week
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Job opportunity for a nursery nurse...

McAfee Security Engineer

£42000 - £48000 per annum + Site allowance: Ashdown Group: McAfee EPO Speciali...

English Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Experience...

Higher Level Teaching Assistants in Bradford and West Leeds

£65 - £75 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are currently seeking Higher L...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories