(Zurich) A composite skeleton of tyrannosaurus rex, a species that lived around 65-67 million years ago, was sold at auction in Switzerland on Tuesday for nearly 5.6 million euros (8.3 million Canadian dollars ).
The final price – including fees – is $8.7 million, Koller auction house spokesman Karl Green told AFP.
Called Trinity, the approximately 3.9 meter high and 11.6 meter long skeleton is actually an assemblage of bones from three different T-Rex found between 2008 and 2013 in formations in Montana and Wyoming, in the Northwestern United States, according to the sales catalog.
It was on these sites that two other important T-Rex skeletons were discovered and auctioned: in 2000, Stan was sold for $42.8 million, shredding the previous record set by Sue, sold in 1997 for $11.3 million.
Trinity belonged to an American collector and was acquired by a European collector of dinosaurs and modern art, auctioneer Cyril Koller told AFP.
It is the “third T-Rex to be auctioned” in the world, and the “first to be auctioned in Europe”, he added.
The public was able to admire the skeleton for more than two weeks in Zurich. “More than 30,000 visitors came to admire Trinity, many of them children,” said Mr. Koller.
Just over half of Trinity’s bone material comes from the three tyrannosaur specimens, which is more than the 50% needed for experts to consider such a skeleton to be of high quality.
The Koller house wanted to be transparent about the origin of the bones. Hence the name Trinity.
Still, for paleontologist Thomas Holtz, Trinity “isn’t really ‘a specimen,’ but rather an art installation.” According to him it is “misleading” and “inappropriate […] to combine real bones from different individuals to create a single skeleton”.
Last year, auction house Christie’s had to withdraw another T-Rex skeleton – also from Montana – days from sale in Hong Kong due to doubts about the authenticity of parts of the fossil.
Sales of dinosaur skeletons regularly enliven auction evenings, even if it means frustrating paleontologists, who see it as one less chance of exhibiting them in museums.