First Gorgosaurus Skeleton To Appear At Auction Sells For $6.1 Million

Topline

A 70 million-year-old skeleton of the dinosaur Gorgosaurus, the first of its kind to ever go up for auction and one of only 20 specimens known to exist, went for $6.1 million at Sotheby’s Thursday as the controversial market for dinosaur bones stays strong.

Key Facts

The specimen—dug up by researchers in Montana four years ago—was sold to an anonymous buyer, marking the first time a Gorgosaurus skeleton has ever been made available for private purchase, according to Sotheby’s, as the others are held in institutions like museums and university collections.

The winning bidder will be able to give the bones a nickname that the specimen will be referred to as, a tradition for dinosaur skeletons.

The Gorgosaurus is among the most valuable dinosaur skeletons to ever sell at auction, the auction house said, though the record is still held by Stan, a Tyrannosaurus rex that sold to an unidentified buyer for $31.8 million last year and will be placed in the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi that is under construction in the United Arab Emirates.

Tangent

Dinosaur bones have sold for millions at multiple high-profile auctions over the past few years. Along with Stan, the most complete skeleton ever found of the deinonychus–best known as the velociraptor from the Jurassic Park franchise–fetched $12.4 million in April. Though dinosaur bones have grown in popularity among collectors, specimen sales remain controversial. Some experts say the auctioning of skeletons contributes to trafficking and looting of fossil sites, while others have expressed concern that the collection of dinosaur bones by private individuals keeps the specimens out of museums and universities for others to enjoy and study.

Key Background

The Gorgosaurus specimen measures nearly 10 feet tall and 22 feet long and resembles a smaller-scale version of the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, which scientists consider a cousin species. The well-preserved Gorgosaurus was discovered in 2018 in the Judith River Formation near Havre, Montana, an area famous for its dinosaur excavations. Before the auction, Sotheby’s estimated the skeleton would sell for between $5 million and $8 million.

Surprising Fact

Researchers believe the Gorgosaurus had a stronger bite than any animal alive on Earth today, according to Sotheby’s. They are also believed to have been more fierce and faster than their Tyrannosaurus rex cousins.

Further Reading

Rare Gorgosaurus Skeleton Hits Auction For The First Time (Forbes)

Rare Skeleton Of Dinosaur That Inspired The Velociraptor From ‘Jurassic Park’ Sells For $12.4 Million (Forbes)