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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Premium for Ancient Poop
19 May 2004 (All day)
Betty Grable's famous legs were insured by Lloyd's of London for $1 million. Now the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina is trying to figure out the value of a much less sexy treasure: a football-sized chunk of fossilized dinosaur poop.
Weighing in at 7 kilograms, the Tyrannosaurus rex coprolite was the largest known when museum fossil hunters found it poking out of the Saskatchewan mud in 1995. But the rock's very uniqueness makes it difficult to set a price. So museum officials recently sent a note to an e-mail list for paleontologists, asking for opinions. It's all part of a routine insurance assessment, says earth sciences curator Harold Bryant.
Michael Sincak, owner of Treasures of the Earth Ltd. in Hollsopple, Pennsylvania, believes the coprolite would probably sell for $15,000 or more. But he's not sure, because nothing quite like it has ever been on the market. (You can get a small one for about $10 on eBay.) Scientifically, though, "it's priceless," says Mark Goodwin, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of California, Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology. "You're trying to put a square peg in a round hole when you try to put a value on it."