Largest Triceratops skeleton found, 66 million years old, will be auctioned

The skeleton of a giant 66-million-year-old Triceratops fossil may soon belong to a fortunate dinosaur enthusiast – that is, if they have an estimated value of 1.2 million euros (about R$7.3 million) to spare.

The specimen, dubbed Big John, has a skull 2.62 meters long and 2 meters wide, while its two largest horns are three feet long and more than a foot wide at its base, capable of supporting 16 tons of pressure, according to auctioneers Binoche et Giquello.

The dinosaur lived on Laramidia, an island continent that stretched from present-day Alaska to Mexico, and died in an ancient floodplain now known as the Hell Creek formation in South Dakota, where it was discovered by geologist Walter W. Stein Bill in May 2014.

The dinosaur was excavated a year later and later restored in Italy, the company said in a statement.

The creature’s remains have been preserved in the mud, and the skeleton is over 60% complete and 75% of the skull complete. However, Big John carries the wounds of a difficult life, with a collar laceration from an altercation with a minor triceratops, which auctioneers say was due to territorial defense or a partner.

Big John is expected to sell for around 1.2 million euros / Giquello

With three horns, a parrot-like beak and a “crown” that can span nearly 1 meter, used to protect the neck or attract a mate, the Triceratops skull is one of the largest and “most striking” of any land animal, according to the UK Natural History Museum.

Herbivorous animals can reach up to 5,500 kilograms and 9 meters in length.

At 8 meters, Big John is the largest specimen of Triceratops ever found, auctioneers said. The creatures roamed the Earth during the Late Cretaceous period, between about 68 and 66 million years ago, in what is now the United States.

The sale of Big John is expected to raise between 1.2 million euros (BRL 7.3 million) and 1.5 million euros (BRL 9.1 million) at the Oct. 21 auction at the auction house Drouot in Paris.

This isn’t the first time a dinosaur skeleton has been put up for sale.

The sale of one of the skeletons of Tyrannosaurus rex The world’s most complete ones broke auction estimates last year, when it sold for $31.8 million, setting a new world record for any dinosaur skeleton or fossil ever sold at auction.

However, those sales raised concerns from paleontologists. In September of last year, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), which represents more than 2,000 professionals and students, wrote to Christie’s auction house about the Stan’s skeleton. Tyrannosaurus rex being marketed.

SVP said: “Fossil specimens that are sold into private hands are potentially lost to science.” The organization added: “Even if it is accessible to scientists, information contained in privately owned specimens and future access cannot be guaranteed and therefore verification of scientific claims (the essence of scientific progress) cannot be performed.”

(Translated text. Read the original in English.)