Largest triceratops ever unearthed sold for €6.6m at Paris auction

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An 8-metre-long dinosaur skeleton has sold astatine auction for €6.6m (about £5.5m), much than 4 times its expected value, to a backstage collector successful the US said to person fallen successful emotion with the largest triceratops ever unearthed.

The 66m-year-old skeleton, affectionately known arsenic Big John, is 60% complete, and was unearthed successful South Dakota, US, successful 2014 and enactment unneurotic by specialists successful Italy.

He volition instrumentality to the US and the backstage postulation of the unnamed buyer, whom the Drouot auction location successful Paris said had fallen “in love” with the dinosaur aft coming to presumption him. The purchaser bushed 10 different bidders, with 3 successful peculiar driving up the terms successful the last minutes to galore times beyond the expected €1.5m.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” said Iacopo Briano, the paleontologist overseeing the sale.

Big John lived astatine the extremity of the Cretaceous period, the last epoch of dinosaurs, and died successful a floodplain, buried successful mud that preserved him. A horn wounded adjacent his cranium suggests helium got into astatine slightest 1 nasty fight.

The merchantability was inactive acold disconnected the grounds of $31.8m (£23m) paid past twelvemonth for a 67m-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton successful New York.

But the terms each but guaranteed museums would beryllium excluded from the purchase. “We can’t compete,” said Francis Duranthon, manager of the Toulouse Museum of Natural History, earlier the auction. He said adjacent the archetypal expected terms represented 20-25 years of his acquisitions budget.

ribs and bones being enactment     together
Staff members assembling ‘Big John’ for auction successful Paris. Photograph: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA

So Big John is headed for a backstage collection, but the auction location said determination was inactive a accidental the purchaser whitethorn lend the skeleton to a depository oregon assemblage for nationalist viewings.

Scientists were capable to analyse the bones earlier the auction.

The triceratops is among the astir distinctive dinosaurs owing to the 3 horns connected its caput – 1 astatine the chemoreceptor and 2 connected the forehead – that springiness it its Latin name.

Dinosaur income tin beryllium unpredictable: successful 2020, respective specimens offered successful Paris did not find takers aft they failed to scope their minimum prices..