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PSA: When buying dinosaur teeth, always ask for the straight line measurement


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Having bought fossils for years, I noticed that fossils are photographed or measured in a way that might exaggerate their sizes. Such methods include:

 

1 - Pinching their fingers or creasing their palms to create a small rise for the fossil

 

2 - Zooming in specifically on the fossil (Good to show details, but not good for size judging)

 

3 - Using a small hand, e.g. a child or woman's hand

 

4 - Giving a "by the curve" measurement instead of the straight line. E.g. a 4-incher tooth is in fact 3-inch if measured on the straight line

 

As an example, here's a juvenile Rex tooth:

 

Tyrannosaurid_Lance-Rex_1.thumb.jpg.51b5075fee0151796bb9cb8ae2d1ac93.jpg

 

Looks pretty big eh?

 

Here's the real size:

 

Tyrannosaurid_Lance-Rex_5.thumb.JPG.301f3bb8ead8c196640bcb2f56a7ac18.JPG

 

It's a hair under an inch long! I've been at the receiving end of this myself where a tooth I mistakenly assumed to be decently sized turned out to be pathetically small.

 

To sum it up. if purchasing fossil teeth online in the future, ask specifically for the straight line measurement, or better yet ask for a photo next to a ruler. That's the only way to be fully informed about your purchase. Good luck, and happy buying!

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As a newcomer to fossil collecting, I find the best way of judging a fossil size is when the seller places a 1cm cube next to it. 

Better than showing a hand or coins. 

 

I recently purchased a fish that was shown using a hand. Was smaller than I thought it would be. Wasn’t expensive, but I learnt my lesson. 

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I think just asking for the dimensions of the tooth should be adequate to determine size and closeup photos are necessary to really get a sense of how good the tooth is and see the serrations

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I agree it’s another case of being observant before buying. Sellers should give dimensions and specify what dimension they’re talking about. If not then there’s no hurt in asking for specific sizes.

But I disagree about some of the “tricks” used to make teeth look bigger. If the seller has small hands or is a lady, that doesn’t automatically make their listings an attempt to fool a buyer. Any buyer should be aware that hand sizes very, so isn’t a very good way to determine size, particularly on small specimens.

I also don’t see anything wrong with a highly zoomed-in photo either; the tooth looks pretty small in the close up photo to me. If a seller refuses to post measurements or specify which edge of the tooth a measurement is taken then it’s up to the buyer whether to take a risk or not.

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I know a seller on online that uses her daughters hand to make objects appear larger.   Having said that they also provide good dimensions on the specimen.  I think extra care needs to be taken if those dimensions are in units that are different than you are familar with.

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I know there are sellers that will purposefully not take photos of the bad side of the tooth or not take photos of the side with restoration.  One thing I have learned is that if a photo of a certain view is missing, there is usually a reason why.

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4 hours ago, TyBoy said:

I think just asking for the dimensions of the tooth should be adequate to determine size and closeup photos are necessary to really get a sense of how good the tooth is and see the serrations

 

4 hours ago, Kosmoceras said:

I agree it’s another case of being observant before buying. Sellers should give dimensions and specify what dimension they’re talking about. If not then there’s no hurt in asking for specific sizes.

But I disagree about some of the “tricks” used to make teeth look bigger. If the seller has small hands or is a lady, that doesn’t automatically make their listings an attempt to fool a buyer. Any buyer should be aware that hand sizes very, so isn’t a very good way to determine size, particularly on small specimens.

I also don’t see anything wrong with a highly zoomed-in photo either; the tooth looks pretty small in the close up photo to me. If a seller refuses to post measurements or specify which edge of the tooth a measurement is taken then it’s up to the buyer whether to take a risk or not.

 

Good points. I shouldn't have attributed a seemingly malicious reason for taking close-ups to the seller. I agree that close-ups are important to show clear details.

 

I edited my post.

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Dracorex_hogwartsia

Excellent tip! I think we have all fallen victim to this at some point in our fossil collecting career. I know I have. Placing the tooth next to a ruler is the absolute best method to show the fossil. That's what I always ask for. Forget this around the curve stuff. What the heck does that mean! Like you said, it's just a way to falsely inflate the size of the tooth. The other thing I like about the tooth being displayed next to a ruler is that I can adjust my computer screen to match the size of the ruler and then I can see exactly what the size of the tooth is. It's perfect! There is no guessing.

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