Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More economic woes: Dinosaur fossil industry takes a hit

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/22/dinosaur.auction/index.html

A recent auction of dinosaur bones, fossils and other such Jurassic antiquities at Western Paleontological Laboratories revealed yet another depressing fact in an already woeful economy: people just aren’t buying dinosaurs like they used to. Paleontologists at the Utah-based institute dedicated to the digging up, cleaning up and marking up of fossilized osseous matter are simply baffled by the loss in market value of their prehistoric treasures.

“This is nothing like it was in the late ‘90’s,” Dr. Bode Rasmussen said while shaking his head. “We used to be able to sell a Compsognathus for well over a hundred grand. Now, we’re lucky to get a T-Rex off of our lots for about 80 thousand—and even then we have to add all sorts of buyer incentives.”

The latest auction was proof enough that prices were falling rapidly, and also that consumers were not about to make any sort of fossil purchase without all the bells and whistles included in the purchase price. A teenage woolly mammoth, for example, was sold at a paltry $60,000 dollars, and only after the auctioneer said that WPL would include a state of the art stereo system and hydraulics upgrades, as well as free installation of the skeleton in the buyers’ home.

Matt Hampton, a California native who gave the highest bid for the mammoth, said that he acknowledges the killer deal he got on the creature, but does not feel he is ripping off the paleontologists. “Yeah, I’ve been eyeing a teenage mammoth for my living room for quite some time,” he told reporters, “but I told these guys straight up that I wasn’t going above 60. I told ‘em I’d walk if they tried to push me above that. I almost walked just now when Dr. Rasmussen tried to sell me an extended warranty.”

Sales are expected to decline throughout the rest of the year, and paleontologists aren’t exactly sure how to weather the storm. Many are considering switching jobs or going back to school to teach, but that just isn’t good enough for Rasmussen.

“Look, I got into this industry for the express purpose of being a dino-digger,” an angry Rasmussen explained. “Just like Dr. Grant in Jurassic Park. That’s me. That’s who I am, and I have no intention of quitting. And people had better start realizing that these dinosaurs aren’t going to dig themselves out. What will they do then? Huh? Dig the bones themselves? I don’t think so. It took me 7 years of higher education to learn how to use a shovel correctly, so if any old Joe schmo thinks he can just go and dig out a dinosaur, he’s got another thing coming.”

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