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Fossilized Dinosaur Nest Up for Auction

November 30, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ An extremely rare and well-preserved dinosaur nest containing fossil eggs with the embryos exposed goes up for auction this weekend, but at least one scientist is demanding the artifact be returned to a museum.

Auction house Bonhams & Butterfields estimated the dino nest, belonging to a predatory raptor, will fetch between $180,000 and $220,000 at auction Sunday.

``To have a wonderful complete nest like this is amazing,″ said Thomas Lindgren, director of the natural history division at Bonhams.

The Cretaceous-era dinosaur nest was unearthed in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong in 1984 and privately sold. An American collector bought it in 2003.

The nest contained 22 unhatched eggs arranged in a circular pattern along the edge. Embryonic remains were uncovered in 19 eggs and one egg was removed for study. Some eggs were so well-preserved that the embryo curled inside is visible.

Gerald Grellet-Tinner, a dinosaur expert at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, said such a fossilized nest is a ``bonanza″ find that can tell scientists a great deal about dinosaur growth and development. He contends the nest should be housed in a museum in China, where it was uncovered, and not in private hands.

``I’m totally outraged,″ he said. ``A lot of scientific information will be lost.″

Lindgren said the collector did not have a contact in the museum world and had hoped that by auctioning the dinosaur nest, it may one day end up in a museum.

Judging by the nest size and egg shape, Grellet-Tinner said he suspects the dinosaur was an oviraptor, a meat-eater with a large beak that ran on powerful hind legs.

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