Stop the auction of illegally collected Mongolian dinosaur fossils.
  • Petitioned Heritage Auctions

This petition was delivered to:

Heritage Auctions

Stop the auction of illegally collected Mongolian dinosaur fossils.

    1. Neil Kelley
    2. Petition by

      Neil Kelley

      East Palo Alto, CA

On May 20th, 2012 Heritage Auctions will place scientifically important fossils from Central Asia, including a Tyrannosaurus (also known as Tarbosaurus) bataar skeleton (lot 49315), on the auction block. These fossils are strongly suspected by scientists from Mongolia and the United States of having been illegally collected from Mongolia. Mongolian law forbids the export and sale of fossils collected in the country. The President of Mongolia, and scientists from Mongolia and the United States have spoken out against this apparent theft of the scientific heritage of Mongolia. These priceless scientific and natural resources belong to the people of Mongolia and should be returned to their rightful owners, not sold to the highest bidder.

If Hertiage Auctions has compelling evidence that these fossils were not illegally collected from Monglia they should disclose that information immediately.

2012 оны 5 сарын 20-ны өдөр, Херитэйж Аокшн байгууллага Төв Азиас олдсон гэх шинжлэх ухааны чухал ач холбогдолтой эртний олдвор болох "Тринозаурус /өөрөөр Тарбозавр гэж нэрлэгддэг/  Батаар" динозаврын олдвор (лот 49315)-ыг дуудлага худалдаагаар үнэ хаялцуулж зарахаар төлөвлөж байна. Монгол болон Америкийн эрдэмтэд энэхүү олдворыг Монголоос олдсон бөгөөд хууль бус аргаар хил гаргасан байх бүрэн магадлалтай гэж үзэж байна. Монгол улсын нутаг дэвсгэрт олдсон эртний олдворыг хилээр гаргах ба зарахыг хуулиар хориглосон байдаг. Монгол Улсын ерөнхийлөгч, Монгол болон Америкийн эрдэмтэд шинжлэх ухааны энэ үнэт өв болсон олдворыг хулгайлсан байж болох үйл явдлыг эсэргүүцэж мэдэгдлүүд гаргаад байна. Энэхүү шинжлэх ухааны болон байгалийн хосгүй өв нь Монголын ард түмнийх учир үнэ хаялцуулж зараxгүйгээр даруйхан эх оронд нь буцаавал зохистой гэж үзэж байна.


Хэрэв Херитэйж Аокшн байгууллага энэ олдвор Монголоос олдоогүй гэсэн баталгаа мэдээлэл байгаа бол даруйхан олон нийтэд мэдэгдэх нь зүйтэй.

Press Release from Heritage Auctions about the sale.

Letter from the President of Mongolia expressing concern about the auction.

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Paleontology experts examine the Tyrannosaurus bataar and issue reports

      Neil Kelley
      Petition Organizer

      A team of paleontologists, working under the terms of an agreement between Heritage Auctions and the President of Mongolia have examined the Tarbosaurus/Tyrannosaurus bataar and determined that available evidence strongly indicates that the specimen was collected in Mongolia, likely within the last ten years.

      These results lend strong support to case that this fossil was illegally removed from Mongolia, and should be returned.

      Last week, Heritage Auctions released a statement that “The day after the auction, we placed the Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton in crates then moved it to a secure, insured facility in the New York City area. We will not move it from there until there is an order from the Court authorizing us to do so.”

      We call on Heritage Auctions to continue their cooperation and assist in the return of all illegally collected fossils.

      The link below directs to a press release issued by Painter Law Firm, as well as the original reports by the scientific team.

    2. Reached 1,500 signatures
    3. Auction Outcome and Next Steps

      Neil Kelley
      Petition Organizer

      Wow, what a day. Earlier today we passed 1,000 signatures. I have been especially encouraged by the strong response from the Mongolian community, thanks in large part to Mongolian language translation of the petition generously provided by paleontologist Dr. Bolortsetseg Minjin.

      Now for the bad news. In spite of the temporary restraining order issued yesterday by a Texas district court judge (link below), Heritage Auctions elected to move forward with the auction. Ultimately, the Tarbosaurus skeleton was sold for $1,052,500 to an undisclosed buyer. Heritage Auctions has stated that this sale is "contingent upon resolution of a Texas state court proceeding."

      In light of today's events, it will be increasingly important to maintain public awareness and pressure for full disclosure of the circumstances surrounding the discovery, collection and eventual sale of these fossils. Please continue to promote this petition and spread the word about these important developments.

      Thanks!

    4. Despite Court Order, Tarbosaurus Skeleton Auctioned for One Million Dollars

      Neil Kelley
      Petition Organizer

      This is a press release from Heritage Auctions detailing today's sale.

    5. Reached 1,000 signatures
    6. Temporary Restraining Order Issued by Texas Judge Halts Dinosaur Sale

      Neil Kelley
      Petition Organizer

      Late this evening, Saturday May 19, at approximately 10PM CDT, Brian Switek reports on the Laelaps blog on Wired.com that a Texas District Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order to halt the sale of the Tarbosaurus skeleton following an application filed on behalf of His Excellency Elbegdorj Tsakhia, President of Mongolia. The latest details can be found at the bottom of Switek's blogpost linked below.

      While the fate of the remaining fossils suspected to have been improperly removed from Mongolia is unclear this represents a tremendous, but provisional victory. Much work remains to ensure that the status of these fossils is fully investigated, and to restore them to their rightful caretakers if they have been improperly removed. The outcome of this incident will send a powerful message to those who seek to profit by violating and evading the proper local legal and scientific procedures required to collect scientifically significant fossils.

      Thanks for your support.

    7. Mongolian Text Added and Letter From Dr. Bolortsetseg Minjin

      Neil Kelley
      Petition Organizer

      Wow. I am overwhelmed with the response to this petition. We are now over 600 signatures in 24 hours! Thanks again to everyone for their support.

      Paleontologist Dr. Bolortsetseg Minjin, a leading expert on Mongolian fossils, has kindly translated the text of the petition into Mongolian to allow us to better connect with the community most affected by this auction. I have added this text to the petition. Dr. Minjin has also written a direct letter to Heritage Auctions which can be read by following the link below.

      It is important to remember that even if our efforts here do not prevent the sale of these fossils tomorrow, raising awareness on the issue of illegal fossil trade can help to deter both potential bidders and future auctions of smuggled fossils. Please continue to encourage others to sign this petition.

    8. Reached 500 signatures
    9. Response to the President of Heritage Auctions

      Neil Kelley
      Petition Organizer

      Thanks to all who have signed the petition.

      Greg Rohan, the president of Heritage Auctions has posted a response to the petition which you can read on the page linked below.

      We appreciate his response to the petition, and have revised the wording of the petition to reflect the fact that, while it is very strongly suspected by Mongolian and American scientists that the fossils have been removed from Mongolia illegally, this is not yet known with certainty. What is certain is that there is a thriving illegal fossil trade in Mongolia, fossils of this type have only been discovered in Mongolia to date, and Mongolian law forbids the export and sale of any fossils collected in the country. If Heritage Auctions has evidence that these fossils were legally collected from another country this should be disclosed, both to establish that this auction is ethical, and to notify scientists of what would be an important new fossil locality.

    10. Reached 250 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Aidan Gilbert STIRLING, UNITED KINGDOM
      • over 2 years ago

      I think it is very important not just for these but all fossils. I am a dinosaur enthusiast and I believe that they should stay in the place where they were found.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Andrew Heckert BOONE, NC
      • over 2 years ago

      As a paleontologist I find these sales of specimens with no provenance, let alone questionable legality, unethical.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Timothy Morris HYDE PARK, UNLEY, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      I collect fossils as a hobby, but nothing like this. Because fossil collecting as a hobby should be limited to small expendable, common fossils, like the ubiquitous ammonites, trilobites, cronoid stems, teeth, etc. The rich who collect outrageously valuable fossils are only in it for status, if they had true passion, they would consider the money AND scientific value they are squandering by buying such ridiculous things.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Susan Turner BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
      • over 2 years ago

      Because this is the heritage of the Mongolian people and belong in Mongolia; if anyone should benefit then make a local Geopark for the local people to gain income from geotourism and protecting their own heritage

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Andrew Scerbo CORPUS CHRISTI, TX
      • over 2 years ago

      I

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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