Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

Young T-rex could be yours for a cool $10 million

You can buy 65 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex for $10m from Etihad Modern Art Gallery – but for an extra $5m you can have her mum too.
The skeleton of a juvenile tyrannosaurus rex, named Tinker, has gone on show at the Etihad Modern Art Gallery in Abu Dhabi. The bones of the young dinosaur were dug up in South Dakota, the US, 10 years ago. His hosts hope a buyer can be found to keep Tinker in the UAE. Delores Johnson / The National
The skeleton of a juvenile tyrannosaurus rex, named Tinker, has gone on show at the Etihad Modern Art Gallery in Abu Dhabi. The bones of the young dinosaur were dug up in South Dakota, the US, 10 years ago. His hosts hope a buyer can be found to keep Tinker in the UAE. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // A young Tyrannosaurus rex has found an unlikely temporary home in Abu Dhabi, more than a decade after being unearthed in the United States. And its Emirati hosts are hoping to keep the prehistoric prize here for good – if the right buyer comes along.

Khalid Seddiq, chairman and founder of the Etihad Modern Art Gallery, where the teenaged T-rex is on display, is selling the rare archaeological treasure on behalf of its German owner, Raimund Albersdoerfer.

“We’ve got the diamond of dinosaurs here,” Mr Seddiq said.

The T-rex is named Tinker and is described as the world’s only junior skeleton belonging to the species and the first of its kind to be exhibited in full in the country.

At 7.5 metres in length, the skeleton was found in the badlands of South Dakota in 1998, her bones mingled with those of an adult who archeologists have since determined to be Tinker’s mother, and named Regina. Palaeontologists also found fossils of the Hadrosaurus dinosaur, which may have been their prey.

Shahdad Jahanbani, the art gallery’s chief executive, said they are hoping to sell the dinosaurs as a pair for between US$12 million to $14 million (Dh44m to Dh51.4m). Buying Tinker, the childhood nickname of its founder, American fossil prospector Ron Frithiof, on its own would cost $10 million.

“We’re trying to sell mother and daughter together, we’re trying not to separate them because they’ve been together for 65 million years,” Mr Jahanbani said. “Also, there’s no museum that has two.”

Mr Seddiq’s goal is to sell the dinosaurs to the Government or a buyer who would put it on public display and possibly establish the country’s first natural history museum.

“I need my country to have a natural history museum one day,” Mr Seddiq said. “This is very important, first for my country, then for my kids and people in general. It’s so important to know who we are and there’s so many things, hidden information, for us to see. The natural history museum would give the right answer for all these kinds of questions.”

Mr Seddiq said he has been dealing with prehistoric prizes for years. He sold Dino to Dubai Mall and in 2008 brought Einstein, the Apatosaurus, to Abu Dhabi International Airport. “I am in good contact with these species,” Mr Seddiq said. “I work with the best guys who can offer the best dinosaurs.”

At 65 million years old, Tinker is unique because more than half of her original bones are in great condition, unlike most skeletons on display, the gallery said. The entire skeleton on display comprises about 300 pieces that take just one day to mount.

“This one is almost 60 to 65 per cent original bones,” Mr Seddiq said. “This is one of the most complete bone dinosaur T-rex’s in the world. It’s the first time in the history of America, in the world, that somebody brings it here as a guest. People can come and see her and photograph her and know what is this.”

Sue, the adult T-rex on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, is the most complete dinosaur discovered to date, containing about 85 per cent original bones.

Tinker’s remains went undisplayed for years amid legal disputes in the US, which involved bankruptcy proceedings and a dispute over the legality of the lease for excavation, according to reports from the Smithsonian Institution, a network of US museums and research centres.

The remains of the young dinosaur are on loan to the gallery from from its owner Raimund Alberstorfer. The gallery expects Tinker to be on display at least until January. Entry to the gallery is free.

rpennington@thenational.ae

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Correction: Tinker, the dinosaur, is on loan to the gallery from its private owner, not the Houston Museum of Natural Science as previously reported.

Updated: October 6, 2014 04:00 AM

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