Saturday, November 22, 2014


Yes - that's a cupcake; for explanation see text.

‘The Amazing Traveling Dinosaur Show’ is a self described “Natural History Museum & gift shop on wheels”; what matters is that their collection includes a real “sub adult Tyrannasaurus rex skull”. Yes, that’s how they spell it.
I first heard of the specimen a couple of years ago from a colleague who casually mentioned a “real juvenile T. rex skull that is privately owned in Calgary”. That was rumor, but now the specimen has surfaced in the hands of a private company that is based in British Columbia.
The specimen is nicknamed “Cupcake”, and the photographs on their website show that it includes a virtually complete cranium and both mandibular rami. It is, of course, for sale. I can only hope that it finds its way into a real museum collection, where it rightfully belongs.
Of note, their site also includes photographs of an adult T. rex nicknamed “King Kong”, which passed through their hands as “one of our past projects”. Regrettably, this specimen is also privately owned; in recent months it has traveled widely, where it was briefly on display in October at a mineral show in Munich, and before that in June 2014 it made an appearance at a gem and jewelry trade show in Hong Kong.
What follows is the List of Shame – a tally of privately owned Tyrannosaurus rex specimens that Science cannot touch. In no particular order (the number of juveniles and subadults is most distressing):
1. Cupcake: subadult skull and jaws; almost certainly collected from Montana; owned by The Amazing Traveling Dinosaur Show, British Columbia; it will be on display in Victoria, BC in December, 2014.
2. King Kong: adult skull and skeleton; collected from Montana; privately owned by an individual person; a project of The Amazing Traveling Dinosaur Show; was on public display at the Mineralientage Munchen, at the Munich Trade Fair Center Oct 24-25 2014; in June 2014 it was briefly displayed at a gem and jewelry trade show in Hong Kong.
3. Tinker: subadult skull and skeleton; collected in South Dakota in 1998; privately owned; presently on display in an art gallery in Abu Dhabi; on sale for $10 million; found associated with the adult specimen Regina.
4. Regina: adult; found associated with Tinker; the pair is for sale between $12 and $14 million.
5 & 6. Russell: composite of two adults; skull and skeleton; collected from Montana in 2012; offered for sale at the Bonham’s auction in November, 2013; it was on display at a 2013 Gem and Mineral show (Denver or Tucson).
7. Dueling tyrannosaurid: subadult skull and skeleton; collected from Montana in 2006; offered for sale at the Bonham’s auction in November, 2013; associated with a ceratopsian; owned by CK Productions.
8. Baby bob: juvenile skull and skeleton; collected from Montana in 2013; privately owned by the collector; specimen is for sale.
9. Samson: adult skull and skeleton; collected from South Dakota in 1987; sold in 2009 to a private individual.
To those of you who own these specimens: You are in an excellent position to make a grand contribution to Science and education. Set a good example and raise the bar of conduct by donating these specimens to a natural history collection at an accredited museum or university. Please do not extort Science by demanding buckets of money; you don't even need to ask for a dime in order to expand scientific knowledge and benefit civilization through a great act of generosity. Reap that glory.

You can choose to do the right thing.


  1. Hi Tom - I also think that greed is a big part of the motivation for those who sell (for money), and those who buy (for possession) dinosaur fossils, but pride and vanity must also be influential psychological components in this skein as well. Downstream of Darwin, I'd assume that reason would defeat both tendencies, but that is clearly not the case.