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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sebastopol Mastodon for Sale on eBay

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2008 at 9:20 AM

A Sebastopol family has put a complete mastodon skeleton up for sale on eBay. An article in today's Chronicle says that a hired hand found the skeleton in 1997, which was subsequently dug up by paleontologists from the Oakland Museum. The mastodon resided at the museum for a few years, made a detour to a winery, and now lives in the garage of its owners. The skeleton is going for the low, low price of $115,000. So far, there have been zero bids. The Indiana Jones of this story is UC Berkeley paleontologist Mark Goodwin who harumphed, "That's an incredibly inflated price. Mastodons are not uncommon. And the commercialization of fossils is a huge problem. It's undermining the science. This is our fossil heritage and it shouldn't be for sale." So Mastodon skeletons are coming out our ears but we still shouldn't sell them on eBay. Check. The Chronicle also inserts this knee slapper into the text of the article: "Paleontologists aren't sure whether it's a boy mastodon or a girl mastodon. Unfortunately, there's a crack in the skeleton right where the evidence would be. The mastodon is sexually indeterminate and should feel at home in Northern California." What is the sound of a thousand readers wincing?-Andy Wright

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