- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - A bit of the Jurassic era will go on sale this weekend when a gallery auctions off a rare, 150-million-year-old complete skeleton of a dinosaur.

The fossil of the 9-foot-long dryosaurus could bring up to $500,000, according to Josh Chait, who runs the I.M. Chait Gallery in Manhattan. The skeleton is being sold by Utah-based Western Paleontological Laboratories.

Founded in 1989 by paleontologists, the lab in Lehi, Utah, scours private quarries for dinosaurs, keeping some for display and scientific research and selling others to museums.

Museum founder Cliff Miles said his company has only sold specimens at an auction once before.

He said there are few private individuals who buy large and rare dinosaur skeletons like the dryosaurus, and he hopes it goes to a museum so research on it can continue.

“With the current economic climate, business has been tight,” Miles said. “We thought this might be a possibility for us.”

The skeleton was unearthed at a private quarry in Wyoming in 1993. The dryosaurus was a smallish, plant-eating bipedal with a long neck and a stiff tail, he said.

“It was food for everybody else,” Miles said.

Rod Scheetz, curator of the Earth Science Museum at Brigham Young University, which features a huge collection of Jurassic period specimens, said the ready-to-display fossil is rare. Pieces of dryosaurus are found all over parts of the West, he noted.

“But to find one so nicely complete is really rare, especially with a complete skull,” Scheetz said.

Other fossils up for auction include a 20,000-year-old wooly mammoth, measuring 7 feet tall and 15 feet long, and a 20-foot-long giant marine lizard. The dinosaur skeletons are part of what the gallery is billing as a natural history auction.

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Associated Press reporter Mike Stark contributed to this report from Salt Lake City.

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On The Net:

I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers: https://www.chait.com/

Western Paleontological Laboratories: https://www.westernpaleolabs.com/

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