“Big John”, 66-million-years old and the world’s largest triceratops skeleton ever unearthed at eight metres long, was sold at auction to a US collector for a gargantuan 6.6 million euros.
The final price reached at the Drouot auction house in Paris.
Big John’s skeleton is 60 per cent complete and was unearthed in South Dakota in the United States in 2014 and put together by specialists in Italy.
The buyer beat 10 other bidders, with three in particular driving up the price in the final minutes. “Big John” became a private collection of the unnamed buyer and will now return to the United States.
“It’s a remarkable price,” said auctioneer Alexandre Giquello.
Big John lived during the Upper Cretaceous period, the final era of dinosaurs, and died in a floodplain, buried in mud that kept him well preserved.
A horn injury near his cranium suggests he got into at least one nasty fight.
The sale was a European record, but still far off the $31.8 million paid last year for a 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in New York.
The auction house said there is a chance that the buyer may lend Big John to a museum or gallery to go on public display, but his intentions are not yet clear.
Scientists who analysed his bones before the auction found that his cranium — which is 70 per cent complete — is five to 10 per cent bigger than other discovered triceratop skeletons.
The triceratops is among the most distinctive of dinosaurs due to the three horns on its head — one at the nose and two on the forehead — that give the dinosaur its Latin name.
Drouot has previously sold an allosaurus and a diplodocus each worth 1.4 million euros in 2018.
(With credit inputs based on AFP reports)