They paid almost 8 million dollars for “Big John”, the largest known skeleton of triceratops | The furor at dinosaur fossil auctions

The skeleton of “Big John”, the mayor tricerátops known, 8 meters long and 66 million years old, was Auctioned this thursday in Paris and acquired by a US buyer for $ 7.7 million.

This amount is much higher than the asking price that the French auction house Drouot put: 1.1 million dollars. However, it is far from the record reached by a fossil dinosaur skeleton: $ 31.8 million for King Tiranosaurio in October 2020 in New York.

In total, 13 people contested for “Big John”. The future owner of this triceratops came to Paris to visit the skeleton when it was exposed to the public in September and “ended up in love with it,” explained its representative at the auction.

“Big John” will return to USA, where it was discovered in 2014 by geologist Walter W. Stein Bill in South Dakota, and will be part of the anonymous buyer’s collection.

This triceratops belongs to the time of Upper Cretaceous, the last era of the dinosaurs on Land. He lived in Laramidia, a long island continent that went from Alaska to Mexico.

“Big John” died in a floodplain and was buried in the mud, which explains its level of conservation. His skeleton is 60% complete (and parts like the skull are 75% complete).

Dinosaur fossils, a trend

Thanks to the collaboration of the Italian universities of Bologna and Chieti, their fossils could be studied and they discovered that the skull of “Big John” is 5 to 10% larger than that of the 40 triceratops skulls studied so far by scientists.

The researchers also analyzed a trace of laceration near the skull, which could be the result of a goring that “Big John” received during a fight with his peers. This species was armed with two long, pointed front horns.

The auction of this skeleton is one more example of the fervor around this type of fossils. The dinosaur skeletons Sold in recent years have reached astronomical figures in these types of markets, unfortunately for research centers and public museums that cannot compete with these prices at auctions.

“We can’t compete,” he explained recently. Francis Duranthon, director of the Museum of Natural History of Toulouse (south of France). Those prices “are equivalent to 20 or 25 years of our procurement budget,” he added.

The Drouot house has already sold some skeleton fossils for large sums: two aleosaurs were sold between 2018 and 2020 for 1.6 and 3.5 million dollars respectively.

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