Books et al.Paleontology

Collector's item or cultural heritage?

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Science  02 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6414, pp. 531
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav2020

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When a dinosaur is named as a defendant in a court case, it is all but ensured that headlines will follow. So it was in 2013, when the U.S. government sought to seize a smuggled dinosaur skeleton in a case entitled United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar Skeleton. In The Dinosaur Artist, journalist Paige Williams tells the story of Eric Prokopi—the man who purchased, prepared, and attempted to sell the Tarbosaurus in question—and reveals how the skeleton made its way out of, and ultimately back to, Mongolia. Throughout the book, she folds together multiple stories to illuminate the history of fossil hunting, revealing how fossils wind up as precious objects of national and cultural heritage or coveted collector's items.