The dinosaurs may not have survived the asteroid crash 65 million years ago, but it seems they survived the economic crash of 2008. While the sales of many luxury goods are on the decline, these relics of the land before time are the newest hot art objects. Dinos, you might say, have replaced Degas.
When looking to purchase dinosaur remains, there are many outlets to help you find your perfect fossil. Two Guys Fossils Inc. has been the every man's dealer of the creatures' skin and bones since 1985. What part you can get your hands on depends on how much you are willing to dish out. $350 will score you a Jurassic rib, Cretaceous toes sell for $295 each and a 16-foot-long Camarasurus tail is just $20,000.
If you have some more to spend, both Christie's and Sotheby's have dabbled in fossil dealings for a higher price. Christie's sold a triceratops skeleton for $805,000; Sotheby's in Paris has auctioned a Prosaurolophus Maximus with mummified skin for over 2 million dollars. Or if you want to shop from the comforts of your home, EBay has hundreds of fossil specimens up for auction at a time.
Not unlike a hot new accessory, dinosaur fossils have their devoted celebrity following. In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicolas Cage went head to head at I.M. Chait auction house in Beverly Hills, fighting over a 67-million-year-old T-Rex skull. Cage won out at a whopping $267,000. Harrison Ford is also allegedly an avid collector.
The American West remains the hot spot for dinosaur fossils. This is not because more dinosaurs lived in America but because "the rock layers laid down during the age of dinosaurs are currently exposed. It also helps that the landscape is dry, so there's not a lot of vegetation covering the rock." Many other countries do not allow commercial fossil export, meaning that if you're getting your fossils from abroad chances are you're buying them illegally.
So far, this niche market is not officially recognized in the Global Luxury Index, but that could all change once someone can get their hands on the never-before-accessed treasure of a dinosaur's family jewels. According to a founder of Two Guys Fossils Inc.: “There’s never been a fossilized penis or vagina found on a dinosaur. The first person who finds one is going to make bundles of cash." Just how much cash remains to be seen. But T-Rex teeth go for $1,000 an inch, and T-Rex penises are estimated to be 12 feet long and 1 foot wide.
Whether or not dinosaur genitalia meet your personal aesthetic criteria, those involved in the market will tell you that many find them "more interesting than a Picasso."