Jump to content

Extreme shortage in high end dinosaur material


Recommended Posts

paulyb135

As a dinosaur tooth collector since 2018 I have been fortunate enough to obtain the majority of species I have been looking for in a relatively short space of time. 
 

That being said, in the last year I have noticed there has been a severe shortage of high quality dinosaur material available. Not just online but from private collectors too and those that have been available, the prices have shot up considerably compared to a couple of years ago for example. Perhaps Covid 19 is a cause of this. 
 

Im just curious as to why people may think this is and their theories behind it. 

 

Are people realising the worth of what they have and keeping hold of them? 
 

Is material simply drying up in the field? 
 

I’d love to hear your views and if anyone else has noticed this shortage in higher end dinosaur fossils, teeth in particular  and also the drastic increase in prices for those that have become available (I appreciate prices and specific examples cannot be discussed). 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe_17

I would imagine restrictions on the land or country that material is coming from also might play a part in it .

  • I Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Kikokuryu
Posted (edited)

I don't think the pandemic had any direct affect on the online fossil market, perhaps it even benefited online buyers with many fossils shows getting shutdown or restricted. There were some unusual influx of certain locales.

 

A lot of, presumably fresh fossils from Niger in the Elhraz fm. and Irahzer fm. were available from multiple sources during the pandemic which typically don't have much of a presence aside from old collection catch-all "Afro" teeth from the Tiouraren. So people who wanted their Suchomimus and Sarcosuchus probably got them.

 

I'd say that the overall quality in common Moroccan fossils have considerably dropped. Popular spots are probably starting to get stale. The Dekkar specimens which made a brief appearance were kind of bad compared to their KK counterparts, though that might just be the formation itself being subpar for commercial efforts. But that stuff was being sold as Allosaurus and other Jurassic material until, maybe the tail end of it when it dried up.

 

Hell Creek and JR, like KK is probably in a similar situation. Rex is still rex, but the rest of the specimens, it's hard to say if they got more rare. I still see pretty good 2+ inch Nanos and such.

 

There was one source of Chinle Formation fossils from Arizona which were pretty nice. They were way better than anything that came out of Bull Canyon in the past 2-3 years. Only one source, and there wasn't really a strong demand. Indeterminate stuff is fairly niche market.

 

Dinos from Portugal, France, Russia seems same as usual. Very few of them pop up, but this is also a very niche market with very few sources/diggers. I don't know if the latter 2 have restrictions or not.

 

Timurlengia teeth, I feel there isn't really new material coming in and the old collection stuff is really starting to dry up a bit. Though I will say that they are still a good poor-mans rex alternative for decent specimens. The really good stuff does seem to be gone though. Stuff that isn't Timurlengia like Itemirus especially.

 

UK Dinosaurs I don't really see. The ones I've seen so far are pretty low quality, but the fossils do seem to be genuinely rare unlike the false rarity from fossils from restricted areas.

 

The restricted "old collection" stuff, I have seen some pretty nice Mongolian, Chinese, Madagascar, and Thailand teeth. I don't know if I'd say prices are jacked up, maybe for Thailand material. It would make sense for this stuff to slowly get progressively worse and worse in quality, more rare. It's like if we had to all shared a carton of milk, passing it along, and before you know it, we are all fighting for the last drop of moldy backwashed milk.

 

I think in a lot of very exotic and niche genera, it's more of, it's not worth enough, rather than people catching on to it being worth more. You spend the time to dig up very rare dinosaurs teeth, and you find out there's really not a strong demand for it unlike a really shoddy Tyrannosaurus rex tooth. Rather than sell it, you might be more inclined to keep it for yourself. There's probably more merit for commercial entities to continuously dig in the same spot in Hell Creek for worse and worse T. rex teeth than to try to venture out looking for more unusual dinosaurs.

Edited by Kikokuryu
  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Fossildude19

Supply and demand.  ;) 

 

I see a number of tooth collectors on here, and I am positive that only a fraction of them are active here on the Forum. 

People have been picking up new hobbies with the pandemic lockdowns, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn this has somewhat of an affect on the availability of items.

 

As far as prices shooting up, I'm not sure of teeth, but in the fish market, I see all kinds of outrageous prices for some fairly mediocre specimens of very common fossils. 

There is no way I would spend tens or hundreds of dollars on a common, poorly preserved , partial fish! Not even complete!

 

 But the sellers have them out there for that.  :duh2:  :shrug:

 

  • Enjoyed 1
  • I Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
paulyb135
26 minutes ago, Kikokuryu said:

I don't think the pandemic had any direct affect on the online fossil market, perhaps it even benefited online buyers with many fossils shows getting shutdown or restricted. There were some unusual influx of certain locales.

 

A lot of, presumably fresh fossils from Niger in the Elhraz fm. and Irahzer fm. were available from multiple sources during the pandemic which typically don't have much of a presence aside from old collection catch-all "Afro" teeth from the Tiouraren. So people who wanted their Suchomimus and Sarcosuchus probably got them.

 

I'd say that the overall quality in common Moroccan fossils have considerably dropped. Popular spots are probably starting to get stale. The Dekkar specimens which made a brief appearance were kind of bad compared to their KK counterparts, though that might just be the formation itself being subpar for commercial efforts. But that stuff was being sold as Allosaurus and other Jurassic material until, maybe the tail end of it when it dried up.

 

Hell Creek and JR, like KK is probably in a similar situation. Rex is still rex, but the rest of the specimens, it's hard to say if they got more rare. I still see pretty good 2+ inch Nanos and such.

 

There was one source of Chinle Formation fossils from Arizona which were pretty nice. They were way better than anything that came out of Bull Canyon in the past 2-3 years. Only one source, and there wasn't really a strong demand. Indeterminate stuff is fairly niche market.

 

Dinos from Portugal, France, Russia seems same as usual. Very few of them pop up, but this is also a very niche market with very few sources/diggers. I don't know if the latter 2 have restrictions or not.

 

Timurlengia teeth, I feel there isn't really new material coming in and the old collection stuff is really starting to dry up a bit. Though I will say that they are still a good poor-mans rex alternative for decent specimens. The really good stuff does seem to be gone though. Stuff that isn't Timurlengia like Itemirus especially.

 

UK Dinosaurs I don't really see. The ones I've seen so far are pretty low quality, but the fossils do seem to be genuinely rare unlike the false rarity from fossils from restricted areas.

 

The restricted "old collection" stuff, I have seen some pretty nice Mongolian, Chinese, Madagascar, and Thailand teeth. I don't know if I'd say prices are jacked up, maybe for Thailand material. It would make sense for this stuff to slowly get progressively worse and worse in quality, more rare. It's like if we had to all shared a carton of milk, passing it along, and before you know it, we are all fighting for the last drop of moldy backwashed milk.

 

I think in a lot of very exotic and niche genera, it's more of, it's not worth enough, rather than people catching on to it being worth more. You spend the time to dig up very rare dinosaurs teeth, and you find out there's really not a strong demand for it unlike a really shoddy Tyrannosaurus rex tooth. Rather than sell it, you might be more inclined to keep it for yourself. There's probably more merit for commercial entities to continuously dig in the same spot in Hell Creek for worse and worse T. rex teeth than to try to venture out looking for more unusual dinosaurs.


thanks for the reply and you make fantastic points. 
 

Even nice Carch and Spino teeth are nowhere near as abundant as they used to be. A friend of mine knows diggers in the Kem Kem and apparently they have only found one nice complete 4 inch plus carch tooth in the last year 
 

In terms of UK Dino material, that is the location which I have the most teeth from. I know quite a lot of collectors who live on the Isle of Wight and they have struggled to find anything at all in the last few months. They are rare anyway but the shortage of finds is going to make them rarer. 
 

As you say though, T. rex teeth no matter the quality will always be high in demand by everyone 

  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Due to Covid, it's possible the loss of other income streams has caused sellers to see what the market can bear.  In other cases, lockdowns or wariness to travel could limit excavation or distribution opportunities.

  • I found this Informative 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
hadrosauridae

I think it is due to covid, bot because of decreased volume in material.  Every collector niche in the last year has been complaining about insanely skyrocketing prices.  Most are attributing it people sitting around playing online and finding "things" that they want to buy, and having a lot of stimulus check $$$$ sitting in the bank with no real need for it.  So bidding wars push prices way up on the auction sites, the sellers take notice and raise prices across the board.

  • Enjoyed 1
  • I Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
Kurufossils
Posted (edited)

I have a theory, I think it is social media, sharing, and the mainstreamsfication of the fossil market especially in dinosaur material. So when a whole new audience is exposed to a niche hobby like this and go after it this the supply shortens, so the demand simply skyrockets. People especially newer collectors who come across random posts on social media/online and see its possible want to start. Then their are those driven by what they see and envy of other people's collections and are going to go out of there way to target specific fossils and try to catch up as fast as possible. A perfect example of this is dinosaur teeth as they have seen an insane rise in popularity since the advent of this, naturally other dino material will eventually follow. When they see alot of higher end items and have the money those will be naturally gone after first as people learn how easy it is to make connects and find the material in some respects. The more this continues the bigger strain on the available material is, also we have to factor in two addition things which is suppliers/collectors catching on and withholding supply to get more bang for their buck as time goes on and the fact that some sites aren't as productive as they use to be. Lastly another dangerous factor that I believe is to come especially with the boom of collectables and investing in general is more people than ever before being introduced to dinosaur fossils as assets especially since the last notorious rex auction. Would not take much for one loaded investor to wipe out the general market over night, and in a dystopian world I can see stuff being graded by quality/rarity. While dinosaur fossils will always be around all these factors will contribute to a squeeze (especially on the best of the best material) that will only get worse and worse with time the more people get exposed to it. It's similar to having a secret spot, then you tell someone and once the word spreads and it gets posted online it gets hit heavy and even sometimes destroyed or closed off.

 

P.s. if you collect anything else like trilobites, plants, shark teeth, mammals, etc things will be generally fine for the most part as more people searching and less mainstream interest has lead to no shortage of this kind of material :)

 

 

Edited by Kurufossils
  • I found this Informative 1
  • Enjoyed 1
  • I Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
paulyb135
27 minutes ago, Kurufossils said:

I have a theory, I think it is social media, sharing, and the mainstreamsfication of the fossil market especially in dinosaur material. So when a whole new audience is exposed to a niche hobby like this and go after it this the supply shortens, so the demand simply skyrockets. People especially newer collectors who come across random posts on social media/online and see its possible want to start. Then their are those driven by what they see and envy of other people's collections and are going to go out of there way to target specific fossils and try to catch up as fast as possible. A perfect example of this is dinosaur teeth as they have seen an insane rise in popularity since the advent of this, naturally other dino material will eventually follow. When they see alot of higher end items and have the money those will be naturally gone after first as people learn how easy it is to make connects and find the material in some respects. The more this continues the bigger strain on the available material is, also we have to factor in two addition things which is suppliers/collectors catching on and withholding supply to get more bang for their buck as time goes on and the fact that some sites aren't as productive as they use to be. Lastly another dangerous factor that I believe is to come especially with the boom of collectables and investing in general is more people than ever before being introduced to dinosaur fossils as assets especially since the last notorious rex auction. Would not take much for one loaded investor to wipe out the general market over night, and in a dystopian world I can see stuff being graded by quality/rarity. While dinosaur fossils will always be around all these factors will contribute to a squeeze (especially on the best of the best material) that will only get worse and worse with time the more people get exposed to it. It's similar to having a secret spot, then you tell someone and once the word spreads and it gets posted online it gets hit heavy and even sometimes destroyed or closed off.

 

P.s. if you collect anything else like trilobites, plants, shark teeth, mammals, etc things will be generally fine for the most part as more people searching and less mainstream interest has lead to no shortage of this kind of material :)

 

 


another excellent response and theory, thank you. 
 

I do agree though that social media in particular allows collectors (myself included in this admittedly on instagram) to showcase their fossils and dinosaur teeth to a wider audience which perhaps makes them think and wish they can get hold of this material and thus increase the demand for limited supply which raises the pricing. 
 

I am just a dinosaur tooth collector however but thank you for the tip on shark and other types of fossils 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kikokuryu
1 hour ago, Kurufossils said:

I have a theory, I think it is social media, sharing, and the mainstreamsfication of the fossil market especially in dinosaur material. So when a whole new audience is exposed to a niche hobby like this and go after it this the supply shortens, so the demand simply skyrockets. People especially newer collectors who come across random posts on social media/online and see its possible want to start. Then their are those driven by what they see and envy of other people's collections and are going to go out of there way to target specific fossils and try to catch up as fast as possible. A perfect example of this is dinosaur teeth as they have seen an insane rise in popularity since the advent of this, naturally other dino material will eventually follow. When they see alot of higher end items and have the money those will be naturally gone after first as people learn how easy it is to make connects and find the material in some respects. The more this continues the bigger strain on the available material is, also we have to factor in two addition things which is suppliers/collectors catching on and withholding supply to get more bang for their buck as time goes on and the fact that some sites aren't as productive as they use to be. Lastly another dangerous factor that I believe is to come especially with the boom of collectables and investing in general is more people than ever before being introduced to dinosaur fossils as assets especially since the last notorious rex auction. Would not take much for one loaded investor to wipe out the general market over night, and in a dystopian world I can see stuff being graded by quality/rarity. While dinosaur fossils will always be around all these factors will contribute to a squeeze (especially on the best of the best material) that will only get worse and worse with time the more people get exposed to it. It's similar to having a secret spot, then you tell someone and once the word spreads and it gets posted online it gets hit heavy and even sometimes destroyed or closed off.

 

P.s. if you collect anything else like trilobites, plants, shark teeth, mammals, etc things will be generally fine for the most part as more people searching and less mainstream interest has lead to no shortage of this kind of material :)

 

 

Interesting take. I love hypotheticals, especially when it involves dystopian elements (wouldn't want to live in one though). Here's an essay worth of thoughts because these are fun to write up and think about.

 

As shown with scalpers buying up Pokemon cards causing a shortage, if a hobby gets too big, I can see those issues start to creep up. Although that's an extreme example, and the fossil market will never be as big as Pokemon cards so I don't think we have to worry about someone buying up every last dinosaur fossil on the market. I think it stays niche. But say it does for the sake of the argument, and buying fossils just becomes the norm. I think overall, it's a double edge sword with it leaning slightly positive for most collectors, but with some pretty bad negatives.

 

Now, more and more younger people on social media wanting to collect can only be a good thing. They are the future paleontologists, politicians, and world leaders who will have influence on how the hobby will either be destroyed or rejuvenated.

 

Here's a hot take. While disgusting and sad for true fossil enthusiasts, turning the narrative of fossils are significant artifacts of history, to collectable assets might actually benefit the market in general. If vast majority of the world starts to view fossils in this way, it's less likely that we will see more restrictions placed upon them and the opposite may start to occur leading to more fossils. There's a lot of negatives sure, but fossil supply might not be one of them. The vast majority of fossils are less like antiquities and more like precious gems. They are finite yes, but they are nowhere near as limited as artifacts, books, swords, and art. You go to any public forum or social media, the first responses you get with even something dirt common like Spinosaurid teeth are, "how did you get something that rare" or "isn't that illegal". I think the narrative of fossil = very old = extraordinarily rare is deeply ingrained into the culture. The biggest hurdle for supply of fossils is the lack of a big mining company focused on fossils like they are for gems.

 

The drive could lead to more large scale excavations as we see with precious gems. We might even see more heavy duty tools in the United States specifically for fossils similar to the Kem Kem Beds. The bad part of that is the large scale destruction. Now, as we've seen with Morocco, that might be a price worth paying. The number of really good and significant specimens from the phosphate mines and KK might owe their discovery at the cost of pulverized fossils. Without it, Moroccan dromeosaurid teeth would likely be nigh impossible to get considering they are rare even with large scale mining. If that happens in the United States, I can see even the mighty T. rex taking a big hit, with other HC and JR material getting devalued greatly. Rare genera might not be so rare overtime, we might even start seeing morphologies never seen before.

 

Now, speaking of the jewelry industry, it's plagued with ethical controversies. We already see a double whammy with Burmite. The market catering both the jewelry industry as well as the fossil market on the side has led to ethical controversy. The silver lining, if you disregard ethics, there's certainly no shortage of Burmite on the market, and the quality and price is as good as always. If you look the other way to all the ugly parts, Burmite is a boom as far as collecting goes.

 

If certain areas become heavily reliant on fossils maintaining the economy, any future legislation to restrict the flow of fossils might be mitigated. It risks crashing the local economy and causing more strain on the government to control poverty rates. However, that doesn't appear to be the case as we've seen some strict responses from Morocco from time to time. Mainstreaming and globalization of the fossil trade isn't necessarily bad, as currently restricted countries might be pressured to loosen some restrictions to capitalize on a booming market. But there has to be an awful lot of money to be made for this to happen, and I just don't see it ever happening. The reason why foreign mining companies are allowed to go into South America or Asia to destroy fossils and nature is because of how much the country is reliant on them to function economically. They are beholden to these big corporations. Fossil market is VERY niche in this regard and an easy target for quick victories, but no one has the guts to challenge a big mining company.

 

More rampant looting and destruction of the environment will become an issue for sure. For collectors, looting and disregard for the environment is extremely harmful as it is an incentive to increase protection and laws; not only that, but insignificant fossils like teeth don't even trickle down to the general market. Clearly we don't have tons of Tarbosaurus, Carnotaurus, and Yutyrannus teeth in the market now, so it's not pumping out high end dinosaur teeth for the general collector. In a mainstreamed fossil market world where they are like Rubies and Diamonds, illicit trade might be a "benefit" for collectors??? Hard to say, but in that hypothetical world, you really can't stop it anymore. Fossils are akin to moonshine or marijuana. Weird comparison, maybe, but the reason why illegal fossil trades exist today is perhaps due to how easy it is for a common person to learn and acquire. You can't stop it, because it's too "easy". But as it stands now, it probably just isn't worth it, and if someone does attempt such a heist, it's always a big skull or skeleton, go big or go home. That said, I wouldn't doubt you if you told me if a lot of Tyrannosaurus rex teeth right now were looted from BLM land or from Canada with fake provenance.

 

Regarding trilobites, the rare ones specifically. That market I feel is actually worse than the dino market in terms of expenses and availability for causal collectors. The price tag on some of those trilobites, is an immediate yikes. You have to factor in the labor cost of prepping which takes longer than dinosaur teeth, at least to do it properly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Kurufossils
Posted (edited)

@Kikokuryu I will have to disagree with the first point I do think there's potential for the fossil market to get a big as pokemon cards or close to. While it is niche its a lesser known untapped market brimming with potential. Its hard to find people who hate dinosaurs except if you look into a specific group of religious zealots haha. The think is I believe its the stigma preventing this from happening that is being chipped away at for better or for worse. Like you mention with the Spinosaurid teeth the average person and even me at one time for a long time thought similar things, that its impossible to get, to rare, etc but then found out one day it is possible and now am crazy about them and collect alot haha. If the stigma is one day broken that you can own real fossil dinosaur part of history then the floodgates will burst, it only took someone like Logan Paul among others to explode pokemon, now imagine if he made one video and flexed with a carcharodontsaurus tooth then the catastrophic effects will be felt instantly. I have seen journalist and people who work with big networks/mainstream big name investors already poking around for insight into the market. Even National Geographic has been recently doing some more press and mainstreaming of the dinosaur market. The boom only takes one person of very high influence to spill the beans and welcome to the dystopia! I definitely do agree its a double edged sword, there are collectors who do so only for the love and science and will cultivate future people like this, but I feel like theres an equal or even greater number who will do so for greed/clout/investment related reasons and make things extremely difficult for most genuine average dinosaur collectors. I have already seen and encountered many collectors who feel inferior and even borderline depressed because someone else has a rarer or better quality fossil than them and that's where I see the negative coming in on especially younger misguided minds affecting their mental health. And when we are talking high quality dino material specifically you'll find a greater minority of young minds doing it for the science and passion, and more or less for same reason other collectibles can kinda get nuts.

 

For your hot take I can see the benefits, more incentive to find dinosaur fossils which can lead to bigger operations leading to more discoveries and while also having less material destroyed during operations/construction since now it has significant value. And I can see the benefit of that on a national level and here in the USA that sounds like a dream. I'd love for such a devaluation but I don't think the market would be flooded even if theres a ton of new finds, but trickled in of course to keep the prices ever so high and climbing as I can see the supply being offered, even to a much larger audience and demand being still limited to justify outrageous prices. The problems I mainly see is happening is more affecting the local level and local fossil hunting spots for the public that will be collateral damage. In recent day due to the spread of information I've witnessed alot more destruction, illegal collecting methods being used, and crowding at favorite fossil collector known local spots that never had as much traffic until a recent few years. Now with lets say more a more mainstream monetary incentive but also combined with the more innocent incentive of collecting for the love of it/science but misguided with method on a grand scale. Spots can be heavily attacked and as a result lead to closing or even more restrictions in those areas. Cause many parks, wild area owners, and property owners in general definitely wont want to see a giant conga-line of clueless people with shovels ready to dig everything and anything in sight in the area lol. Also way more people will be brazen and see it being worth the risk to collect private/protected property whether for money or for views. As you mentioned I definitely agree and think more rampant looting and destruction of the environment will become an issue for sure. And for collectors, looting and disregard for the environment is extremely harmful as it is an incentive to increase protection and laws; not only that, but insignificant fossils like teeth don't even trickle down to the general market.

 

Lastly as you mention regarding trilobites, the rare ones specifically. Your right haha most of mine are broken or restored for such a reason but I am still very happy with them. Though the price for some of them at times does feel justified as some trilos take an enormous amount of prep work as you state way more than dinosaur teeth, but maybe some bone prep could match that. Also generally most people see this other stuff as less cool and will typical want to choose the big bad dinosaur over the very cool and unique small trilobite creature. Kinda like a gung ho Jurassic Park style mindset, it will seem way more impressive and the more I guess I don't now what to call em besides bad apple collectors will love to use that as a measuring tool to compare a certain private area with each other I won't mention lol, like what is commonly seen with other collectibles and completely disregard/fain interest in the dinosaur or science itself. 

 

One more small point I forgot to mention somewhere in here and had to edit in, is there's examples of nature influencers making content in once lowkey hiking/nature areas which then instantly leads to the crowding of a once more peaceful nature spots. I can see easily see the same sort of thing happening with "fossil influencers" with the market or even fossil spots which I feel will lead to more negatives then positives.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Kurufossils
  • I Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't really buy fossils, so forgive me, but I imagine it is because of the ease in which they can be bought online and through social media exposing material to people who would never have thought about it in the first place. One thing I don't understand is how certain fossils  can be bought in the first place, for example dinosaur material from Thailand would be illegal. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, aek said:

I don't really buy fossils, so forgive me, but I imagine it is because of the ease in which they can be bought online and through social media exposing material to people who would never have thought about it in the first place. One thing I don't understand is how certain fossils  can be bought in the first place, for example dinosaur material from Thailand would be illegal. 

"Old collection". It's not exclusive or unique to fossils either as similar arguments are commonly applied to art, artifacts, precious gems, exotic animals. It exists because you cannot reasonably demand documentation for things exported in the hundreds or thousands with many being indistinguishable from each other. There are obviously limitations, you're not going to have a good time trying to frame a huge skull or skeleton as "old collection" that just popped out of nowhere.

 

In the same sense that, say you were an old coin collector, can you prove that the coin wasn't stolen from an archeological site. Probably not, as generally "insignificant" finds like coins rarely ever have legal documentation to go along with it. I believe there was something about Germany that began requiring such documentation which is nigh impossible in a lot of cases.

 

With exotic animals, say a country has begun banning the export of most of their fauna like in Brazil. But, say a dealer smuggled something into Japan, once the animals are in, they can easily be labeled as either, old export if it's a long lived species, or captive bred if it isn't.

 

Now, Thailand currently has laws against bringing in dinosaur material, but once they are in, you couldn't prove whether the specimen was brought in prior to the laws. However, as I already mentioned in a previous post, insignificant fossils do not trickle down into the general market.

 

There's no doubt illicit material is mixed in with legal ones, but it probably isn't a huge amount. Looting and smuggling of teeth other isolated material is probably not as rampant as people make it out to be though. You see the odd Mongolian tooth here and there, but it's non-existent for fossils that are dirt common in their country of origin. China is interesting as there's no shortage of Chinese material, but the fossils are such bad quality and they are consistently from the same locales/formations that, it's really tough to say since it is true that these thins were exported in mass.

 

So when you buy fossils that have the potential to be sourced by illicit means, I think it's really your call because there are genuinely old material that is perfectly legal. But again, can you prove that a Tyrannosaurus rex tooth wasn't illegally sourced via BLM land or Canada?

  • I found this Informative 1
  • I Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@Kikokuryu Interesting, so due to the unverifiable possibility of coming from an old collection makes certain restricted areas possible. In the case of Thailand, the first dinosaur fossils were discovered only in the late 70's. The ban on collecting both invertebrate and vertebrate material began 2008, so any Thai fossils would have to be from (theoretically)a collection prior to 2008. The ban enacted is no doubt a result of this behavior exploiting material before scientists get to study the fossils in a country where paleontology is still " new".

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Kikokuryu said:

Here's a hot take. While disgusting and sad for true fossil enthusiasts, turning the narrative of fossils are significant artifacts of history, to collectable assets might actually benefit the market in general. If vast majority of the world starts to view fossils in this way, it's less likely that we will see more restrictions placed upon them and the opposite may start to occur leading to more fossils.

 

If anything, it is going the opposite direction. A lot of countries are moving towards more rigorous restrictions on export, especially as more and more of the "destination" countries for this trade are beginning to cooperate with countries of the global south in international smuggling investigations. I would not be surprised if countries like Morocco significantly restrict exports in the next few years.

 

As far as "fossils as significant artifacts of history" the issue is more that many fossils have significant scientific value which is stripped from their countries of origin and either serves solely to increase bid price at auction or to produce scientific value for scientists in destination countries. In areas of the world with significant colonial histories, this carries additional symbolic resonance in addition to creating iniquity within the scientific community, and that symbolic benefit of resisting colonial structures is considered well worth the modest economic costs of shutting down the fossil trade. It's important to recognize that the majority of financial benefit associated with the fossil trade in these situations does not go to the quarry workers. 

 

Furthermore, a lot of the purchase of high-end fossils occurs in the same manner as investment in high-end artifacts and artwork; they are serving there as investment pieces rather than display pieces or beloved pieces of a personal collection. This is probably the reason for the sudden increase in auction price for dinosaur skeletons when many such specimens weren't hitting reserve prices for the past decade and a half.

 

 

  • I found this Informative 2
  • I Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, jdp said:

If anything, it is going the opposite direction. A lot of countries are moving towards more rigorous restrictions on export, especially as more and more of the "destination" countries for this trade are beginning to cooperate with countries of the global south in international smuggling investigations. I would not be surprised if countries like Morocco significantly restrict exports in the next few years.

 

As far as "fossils as significant artifacts of history" the issue is more that many fossils have significant scientific value which is stripped from their countries of origin and either serves solely to increase bid price at auction or to produce scientific value for scientists in destination countries. In areas of the world with significant colonial histories, this carries additional symbolic resonance in addition to creating iniquity within the scientific community, and that symbolic benefit of resisting colonial structures is considered well worth the modest economic costs of shutting down the fossil trade. It's important to recognize that the majority of financial benefit associated with the fossil trade in these situations does not go to the quarry workers. 

 

Furthermore, a lot of the purchase of high-end fossils occurs in the same manner as investment in high-end artifacts and artwork; they are serving there as investment pieces rather than display pieces or beloved pieces of a personal collection. This is probably the reason for the sudden increase in auction price for dinosaur skeletons when many such specimens weren't hitting reserve prices for the past decade and a half.

All true points in regards to the current real world situation and likely future. I was mostly talking hypothetical dystopic world that I think won't happen with any high probability. Restrictions are happening in the real world because the vast majority of people, including politicians who write the laws do see fossils as significant and not just natural resources.

 

But say hypothetically, 90% of the population of the world did not see fossils as historical artifacts, then the situation is different. We might have commercial fossil lobbyists in that world in the same way other resources like oil or lumber do right now. I don't actually see that happening, it was mostly just to humor a dystopian hypotheticals.

 

Now, as @Kurufossils has stated, all it takes is one Logan Paul for catastrophic disaster to happen overnight. A lot of older collectors won't know what hit them if it ever comes to that.

Link to post
Share on other sites

With smuggled fossils, it's important to keep in mind that there's only so many people doing the prep and brokerage and, for the really big fancy specimens, only so many venues handling the auction or sale of these specimens. "Sourced from an old collection" might work for small nondescript fossils but big investment pieces just can't be explained away like that, and with increased attention to fossil smuggling by customs, the legal jeopardy is way too high for major auction houses to take on that risk. Not to say there isn't an opportunity for black market trade but smugglers and their buyers really are going to jail now and that's likely to be an ongoing feature of international enforcement going forward.

 

  • I found this Informative 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add that the market is also just not productive at the volume of major resource or commodity resources, and is really idiosyncratic, so there just will not be the same sort of lobbyist presence arguing for permissive export laws. No one is buying up Hell Creek ranchland to stripmine for fossils, for instance, and there just isn't the sort of demand as there is for, say, petroleum products.

  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the whole COVID thing may be the main reason for the apparent shortage.  Since February of last year, COVID has caused or been a contributing factor to weird shortages at Wal-Mart and other stores, certain brands of items not getting restocked or getting restocked slower than normal.  With high-end dinosaur teeth, dealers couldn't go to shows to sell nor meet with their sources.  Yes, they could deal through the mail but some people like to look at stuff in person especially with anything requiring further prep.  A lot of oddball dinosaur stuff goes through the Tucson shows.  The show put on two months ago was just a shadow of its normal self.  I heard there was almost nothing unusual of any sort for sale there.

 

Also, without shows, we don't know what we're missing.  Some great teeth have probably changed hands in the mail over the past year.  If you're at Tucson early, you'll see specimens that aren't there the next day but at least you got to see it (some stuff is gone before the show opens).  Some dealers don't have a sales site and they're not on social media.  They're content to wait for the next show while keeping pots boiling with sales through the mail with regular customers.  With all that time people were stuck at home, I suspect a lot of great specimens are going to be ready for Tucson next year.

  • I Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, siteseer said:

I think the whole COVID thing may be the main reason for the apparent shortage.  Since February of last year, COVID has caused or been a contributing factor to weird shortages at Wal-Mart and other stores, certain brands of items not getting restocked or getting restocked slower than normal.  With high-end dinosaur teeth, dealers couldn't go to shows to sell nor meet with their sources.  Yes, they could deal through the mail but some people like to look at stuff in person especially with anything requiring further prep.  A lot of oddball dinosaur stuff goes through the Tucson shows.  The show put on two months ago was just a shadow of its normal self.  I heard there was almost nothing unusual of any sort for sale there.

 

Also, without shows, we don't know what we're missing.  Some great teeth have probably changed hands in the mail over the past year.  If you're at Tucson early, you'll see specimens that aren't there the next day but at least you got to see it (some stuff is gone before the show opens).  Some dealers don't have a sales site and they're not on social media.  They're content to wait for the next show while keeping pots boiling with sales through the mail with regular customers.  With all that time people were stuck at home, I suspect a lot of great specimens are going to be ready for Tucson next year.


I completely agree with this analysis. I know a number of dealers who are either running out of stock or can’t access there existing stock due to travel or business restrictions.

 

There are also large numbers of people out collecting these days and a lot of these people keep hold of what they find.

 

Both of these facts significantly affect supply and demand and hence prices.

  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

Quite a number of good points have already been made here. But let me try and add my 2cts from the thought I've been giving the matter - as I've observed the same trend.

 

I too think COVID has definitely played its part in this, if only, as @siteseer said, the big shows are not taking place. Not only does this mean stock doesn't change hands - or does so behind closed doors - but I've also been told by various sellers that they reserve their best pieces for such shows. With the fairs not taking place, such pieces therefore simply end up locked up.

 

On the consumer-end, however, there seems to be a growth in the amount of new collectors, as films in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchises have done a lot to spark interest in dinosaurs and marine reptiles. Thus, with travel having become restricted for the past year-and-a-half, people have become more open to social-media influencers showing the fun and rewards of the low-key activity of fossil hunts - an activity often still quite possible over confinement. As such, a lot of popular hunting grounds have seen an increase in visitors, leading to depletion of material at these sites.

 

In addition, with travel not being possible, more money has freed up in people's pockets, with no clear purpose to spend it on. This means that incipient collectors who never really thought about setting money aside to start a fossil collection have now been able to do so. And as plenty of material is/was actually available on the market and these new collectors are not aware of the prices typically paid for the pieces they're buying, they tend to just pay what's asked. Or, if action is involved, overpay in order to ensure auction victory. With time, this indeed leads to increased fossil prices...

 

As @Fossildude19 said, this is where supply and demand kicks in. If demand outgrows supply, however, this leads to depletion, and possibly even plundering/looting, of the natural resources where the fossils are drawn from. This leads to a feedback-cycle, since, as more people are now interested in fossils, politicians start to perceive the value of protecting these natural resources, since this may - indirectly - lead to more votes. As such, more and more countries are implementing laws to protect their fossil heritage. This restricts movement of fossils, thereby decreasing supply - if this is not, as has been suggested, indeed already throttled for investment reasons - and, again, raising prices.

 

Another aspect to this feedback-cycle, by the way, is indeed the move of fossil sales onto social-media. Although this appears to have been a trend that had already started prior to the outbreak of COVID, with fairs not taking place a lot more trade has moved onto these platforms. This, in itself, fuelled the growing interest in fossils, as news travels more easily over social-media, and these platforms, moreover, cater to social-media influencers. Trade on social-media has, coincidentally, also helped to hide a lot of the passing-of-hands that is still taking place.

 

All of this not only means prices are changing, but also that channels of sales have altered to the extent that the traditional channels no longer pay off. If you don't know your way along these new channels, you're going to miss out.

 

 

Then a final not on Moroccan fossils:

 

On 6/6/2021 at 4:45 PM, Kikokuryu said:

I'd say that the overall quality in common Moroccan fossils have considerably dropped. Popular spots are probably starting to get stale. The Dekkar specimens which made a brief appearance were kind of bad compared to their KK counterparts, though that might just be the formation itself being subpar for commercial efforts. But that stuff was being sold as Allosaurus and other Jurassic material until, maybe the tail end of it when it dried up.

 

On 6/7/2021 at 6:59 PM, jdp said:

I would not be surprised if countries like Morocco significantly restrict exports in the next few years.

 

While I'm not too versed on the situation in the Kem Kem or Dekkar, the quality of material from places like the phosphate mines and Goulmima seems to indeed have decreased over the past year or so. The problem, however, doesn't seem to be depletion of these localities, as I've heard sources re-assuring me that these localities are still very much productive, with great finds being made. With COVID and sellers not being able to travel, however, little is taking place in terms of export, right now. But this is not the full extent of it, as I've heard stories about more stringent export restrictions being in place concerning Moroccan specimens: sellers stating it will be difficult, if not impossible, to export fossils from Morocco, and authorities cracking down on such exports in countries like Spain. Moreover, I've just been told today that there also seem to be new restrictions on local communities collecting in the phosphate mines. This surprises me a bit, as I thought community support has always been important for the phosphate mines to operate and this support was generated by allowing locals to collect fossils from the mines. It'll thus be interesting to see how this situation develops after COVID loosens up, but to me it sounds like the times of rich fossil finds from Morocco being easily available to everybody are coming to an end. In any case, with the current situation in place, the lessening quality of Moroccan fossils seems to be a consequence of a lack of new exports and old stock being sold off at the moment.

  • I found this Informative 2
  • Enjoyed 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon

One thing I still forgot to mention as concerns influencers and the potential new players in the game is that some time ago I read a column in - I think it was - the Wall Street Journal that also advocated fossil collecting, both for the fun of it, but I think also for their investment value. With the journal's target audience, an article like this sounds like a game changer - to me at least...

Link to post
Share on other sites

High end and High quality are two different things or is it the availability of rare items.    Most of the commercial dinosaur diggers I know in SD and Montana have not had their collecting affected by COVID.   So material is still coming out, cannot talk about distribution and its impact because of COVID.  I expect to see a more normal fossil show at Denver 21 and a normal one at Tucson 22.

High Quality material from the Kem Kem Group has been on the steady decline over the past number of years because the primo collecting areas have dried up or are in areas that are dangerous to collect.    Material is still abundantly available and I don't see change over the next year.   One big european Morrocan dealer plans a big show at Denver 21.

The lack of Tourism and Covid in Niger has pushed more locals to collect with more material becoming available.   

I see lots of Dinosaur material available from lots of different locations.  Prices should go up with demand that's normal and good encourages diggers to keep collecting.  I see no storm clouds out there in the near term.

  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who does deal directly with the people in Niger I had my first good lot of material shown to me before covid (in January) the fact they fell in the same time as covid hit was merely a coincidence. As for different countries these where hampered a lot by covid, as a lot of people who dig and sell work face to face, and this has put a grinding halt on to the wheels. Morocco is an interesting one this year I've seen a lot better material coming from the kem kem beds, and I believe its due to a lack of tourism, you see the issue with the likes of the kem kem beds is its much more profitable to overcharge tourists for nice teeth than sell to a moroccan dealer who in turn then sells to other dealers either via mail or at the numerous european fossil shows.

  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...