Now We Know Who Owns Stan

Ownership of the $31.8 million Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, the most expensive fossil ever auctioned, finally revealed
Stan, a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, in Google headquarters
Stan, a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, in Google headquarters

Palaeontologists and dinosaur fans are delighted to know that the veil of mystery surrounding the ownership of Stan, one of the world&rsquos most complete Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) skeleton, has been lifted. If all goes according to plan, it will be on display at Abu Dhabi&rsquos Natural History Museum (currently under construction), which is scheduled to open in 2025.

The ownership of the skeleton has been a mystery since its auction in October 2022.

The 39-feet long skeleton, which likely roamed the world 65-67 million years ago, was named after Stan Sacrison, an amateur palaeontologist, responsible for the initial discovery of the T. rex bone fragments, namely the pelvis, in 1987. In 1992, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research undertook a thorough excavation of the site in South Dakota (mid-western United States) where the first bone fragments were found. According to reports, 199 of the 350 known bones of the T. rex were excavated. Scientists were happy to note that the skull of the animal was almost intact. Pathological studies of the skull and bones of the dinosaur revealed many interesting facts about its life and the then contemporary animal world.

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Stan, who lived in the private Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota, was auctioned off by Christie&rsquos in October 2022 for a record USD 31.8 million, the highest price ever paid at any auction for a fossil. However, the name of the buyer was never disclosed. Although Stan is believed to be the most duplicated T. rex fossil, its plaster casts showcased in many museums around the globe, scientists feared that studies performed on the original would be hampered if the unknown owner and his or her intention was not clear. Hope flickered when a similar dinosaur head was caught on camera while a television channel was interviewing Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (actor, former wrestler and sports commentator), according to media reports. However, soon Dwayne himself put the controversy to rest declaring that the head was a cast and not the real one.

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On March 23 this year, plans for the Natural History Museum of Abu Dhabi were unveiled. The nation&rsquos Department of Culture and Tourism said in a press release that the museum &lsquowill feature some of the rarest wonders of natural history ever found. Visitors will travel on a 13.8-billion-year journey through time and space, which will include a thought-provoking perspective into a sustainable future for planet Earth&rsquo.

The release also mentioned that a highlight of the new museum&rsquos collection will be the world-famous &lsquoStan&rsquo, a remarkable, mostly complete 39-foot-long (11.7 metres) Tyrannosaurus rex, which is one of the best preserved and most studied fossils of this iconic predator from the Late Cretaceous Period.

It also clarified that &lsquoknown by scientists around the world, years of scientific studies of &lsquoStan&rsquo have furthered our knowledge of countless aspects of T. rex. Now that &lsquoStan&rsquo has a new home at the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, this 67-million-year-old dinosaur will be in the care of expert scientists, and will continue to contribute to education and research and inspire future explorers&rsquo.

Apart from the skeleton of Stan, the museum in the Saadiyat Cultural District (already home to Louvre Abu Dhabi) will also display the Murchison Meteorite specimen, which famously crash-landed in Australia more than 40 years ago and has since revealed to scientists new information about the early solar system, the release said.

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