Celebrities are some of the best proof that money cannot buy sense. I expect bizarre purchases by the likes of Marilyn Manson and others who make a living being weird, but by Leonardo DiCaprio? Not on your nelly.
He’s a respected actor, he supports conservation efforts and green initiatives, and he wants to buy dinosaur bones. That’s according to rumours published by the New York Post. Honestly, if it turns out to be true, I don’t think I’ll be all that surprised. I mean, not all that long ago we had Madonna’s Australian clown-show. I don’t know if anyone saw that mess coming, and then there it was. When it comes to celebrities, expect the unexpected.
OK, back to Leo. Yes, the rumour is that Leo wants to spend $2.5 million on the fossilised skeletons of a mother and baby Allosaurus. He was said to have seen them at the DeXtinction exhibition at Art Miami. The mom-and-tot apparently came from Wyoming, where they were dug up 150 years ago. They had been provided to the exhibition by Interprospekt and Avant Mining, two geology and mining companies.
However, a friend of his said Leo hadn’t been anywhere near the fossils. If that’s true, it might calm down the palaeontology community, because the rumour has had the same effect as chucking a cat into a fowl run would.
Leo Reeeally Wants a Fossil
This wasn’t the first time Leonardo DiCaprio has been said to be in the market for dinosaur bones. Back in 2007, he found himself bidding against none other than Nicholas Cage for the skull of a 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar.
Cage won the skull with a $276 000 bid, but had to surrender it because it was stolen property. It turned out that a smuggler had stolen the fossil from Mongolia. If the new rumours are true, Leo clearly didn’t learn anything the first time around.
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Selling Fossils Is Not Cool
It’s not all about the Hollywood star, however, because he wouldn’t be the first person to buy dinosaur bones. Paris’ Artcurial and Aguttes auction houses sold a few last year.
An Allosaurus and a Camptosaurus were sold at Artcurial, and what was probably an Allosaurus went for $2 million at Aguttes. The auctions were discouraged by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, but its pleas were ignored.
At first, I thought the science nerds were being all precious about fossils, but if you really think about it, you can see their point. Vertebrate palaeontologist and biology associate professor at Carthage College, Thomas Carr, said he would be disappointed if Leo went ahead and bought dino bones.
He said that fossils are the only way scientists can study the history of life on earth. Ancient bones in private collections are no help, because they cannot publish findings on fossils that are not in a proper museum collection. One reason for this is that accessing them either for initial or follow-up studies can be difficult.
How Did T-Rex Grow?
Carr gave a shocking example of what this means to academics. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is one of the most famous dinosaurs, yet we do not know as much about it as we would if so many fossils weren’t in private collections. Almost nothing is known about T-Rex’s junior years, and that’s because there are only 45 fossilised bones, teeth, skulls, and skeletons that are available publicly in the world. He estimated that at least 31, most of which are from juveniles, are owned privately. Making them available by giving them to museums would bring a treasure-trove of new data. However, keeping those old bones in private helps keep us ignorant, and that’s not cool.