A composite Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton called Trinity sold for 5.5 million Swiss francs ($6.1 million) at a rare auction on Tuesday.
The 3.9-metre (12.8-foot) tall skeleton, made up of bones from three different T-rex animals estimated to be 65-67 million years old, was sold at the Koller auction house in Zurich after to have been shipped from the United States in nine giant crates.
The skeleton fetched a hammer price of 4.8 million Swiss francs, rising to 5.5 million with the buyer’s premium added.
Trinity was put up for sale by an anonymous American private individual and was expected to fetch between five and eight million Swiss francs.
It was purchased by a private European collector.
As its name suggests, Trinity is made up of the bones of three dinosaurs – excavated between 2008 and 2013 from the Hell Creek and Lance Creek formations in Montana and Wyoming.
The sites are known for the finds of two other significant T-rex skeletons which have been auctioned off.
‘Sue’ went under the hammer in 1997 for $8.4 million, while ‘Stan’ won the world record hammer price of $31.8 million at Christie’s in 2020.
On Trinity, vertebrate paleontologist Thomas Holtz – who opposes the sale of such specimens – told AFP it was “misleading” and “inappropriate…to combine multiple real bones from different individuals to create one skeleton”.
Just over half of the bone material in the skeleton comes from the three Tyrannosaurus specimens – above the 50% level needed for experts to consider such a skeleton to be of high quality.
Holtz, of the University of Maryland, remained skeptical, insisting that Trinity “isn’t really a ‘specimen’ but rather an art installation”.
He also challenged auctions of important dinosaur skeletons and other fossils, which have brought in tens of millions of dollars in recent years.
Experts have warned that such trade could be detrimental to science by putting specimens in private hands and beyond the reach of researchers.
But Koller’s Christian Link pointed out that 95% of known T-rexes are currently in museums.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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