World's Most Expensive Fossil Vanished. Nat Geo Found It

Stan the T. rex has been hiding in UAE, getting ready to be displayed in Abu Dhabi museum
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2022 12:50 PM CDT
World's Most Expensive Fossil Has Been Hiding in UAE
Stan, one of the largest and most complete "Tyrannosaurus rex" fossils ever discovered, is displayed at Christie's in New York on Sept. 15, 2020.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

When one of the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossils ever found sold at a Christie's auction for $31.8 million in October 2020, experts worried the 39-foot-long specimen would be lost to the public, and to research. That prompted National Geographic to go looking for Stan, as the most expensive fossil ever auctioned is dubbed. It was a search that took reporters halfway around the world, as trade records showed a 5.6-ton shipment worth Stan's exact sale price was shipped from New York to the United Arab Emirates last May. On Wednesday, the outlet revealed that found Stan—and it turns out he won't be hidden from view at all.

Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism confirmed that the 67-million-year-old fossil found on private land in South Dakota in the early 1990s will be housed in the 377,000-square-foot Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, which is set to open on Saadiyat Island in 2025. "Natural history has a new home here in Abu Dhabi, and we will tell the story of our universe through some of the most incredible specimens known to mankind," says department chairman Mohamed Khalifa al Mubarak. Stan "will be in the care of expert scientists, and will continue to contribute to education and research and inspire future explorers," reads the department statement, per Live Science.

That's great news to paleontologists like Lindsay Zanno of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. "If Stan can inspire a new generation to protect the past and lean into conserving our planet's biodiversity in the future, that's what I call a happy ending," she tells Nat Geo, which notes Stan has provided "crucial data in studies" of T. rex. The new museum will also be home to a piece of the famous Murchison meteorite that crashed in Australia in 1969 and is known to contain tiny grains formed billions of years before the birth of our solar system, officials confirmed. Christie's sold one fragment for $30,000 in August 2020 and another for $40,000 in February 2021. (More T. rex stories.)

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