The skeleton of the largest specimen of triceratops discovered so far, which lived about 66 million years ago in what is now northern USA, was awarded this Thursday at the Drouot auction house in Paris for 6,651 million euros (7.6 million dollars).
The buyer is “an American collector” who does not want his name to be made public, explained sources of the sale, who emphasized that the triceratops will return to the country from which it came.
Alexandre giquello, the auction’s organizing commissioner, and his team, had set a starting estimate of between 1.2 and 1.5 million euros. But as the commissioner had said, his hope was that the final price would well exceed that range.
This specimen of one of the last species of dinosaurs before its extinction, in the Cretaceous, was put up for sale in a new edition of what Drouot call Naturalia, an auction that for five years has been dedicated to natural curiosities that offer spectacularity and aesthetics at the same time.
East triceratops, baptized Big John, was discovered in 2014 by Walter Stein, a specialized researcher, in a deposit in an area known as Hell Creek, in the State of South Dakota.
The excavation campaigns lasted the following year and allowed 60% of the skeleton to be reconstituted in painstaking work that was carried out later and over six months in Italy, explained paleontology expert Iacopo Briano.
The assembly of the different fragments with resin and their consolidation in the laboratory by means of a metallic structure with the missing bones allowed the skeleton to stand eight meters long and slightly less than three meters high.
Briano acknowledged that it is difficult to accurately estimate the actual weight of the animal, but in any case it was “several tons, like a large pachyderm.”
What has been determined is that its size was “between 5% and 10% larger” than the largest specimen of triceratops known so far.
The researchers found two wounds that were made in fights with other dinosaurs (probably for the defense of the territory or for their sexual reproduction), one on the tail and, above all, another on the head that caused a gap of about 30 centimeters in a bone.
A paleopathology team that carried out a macroscopic and microscopic study concluded that this perforation was made by the skull of another triceratops. Neither wound was fatal and there are signs that the bone was healing.
In fact, given the large size of Big John it is considered that the animal must be quite mature and, according to Briano, “he may have simply died of old age.”
Giquello emphasized that they never put specimens of particular research interest up for public sale so as not to create competition with museums. In this case, he recalled that the triceratops It is such a well-known dinosaur that this specimen offered limited appeal to scientists.
With information from EFE
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