The largest triceratops skeleton ever found was sold for $7.74 million Thursday at an auction in Paris to a private American collector.
In a statement on its website, the Drouot auction house said the fossilized remains of “Big John,” as the skeleton is known, was expected to go for between $1.4 and $1.7 million. But they said the prehistoric remains aroused the enthusiasm of bidders onsite at the auction house, on the phone and online.
An anonymous U.S. collector finally won the bidding battle. A representative for the buyer told reporters “the individual is absolutely thrilled with the idea of being able to bring a piece like this to his personal use.”
Triceratops, which means “three-horned face” in Latin, was a large plant-eating dinosaur that lived between 66 million and 84 million years ago. It was distinctive for the two large horns on its forehead and a third on its nose. Big John is named after the owner of the parcel of land where the bones were discovered in 2014 in the upper midwestern U.S. state of South Dakota.
Experts say Big John is unique and rare among dinosaur fossils because more than 60% of its skeleton and 75% of its skull are complete.
Last year, a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton was sold in New York for a record-breaking $31.8 million. Paleontologists say enthusiasm for dinosaur bones by private collectors is pricing them out of reach of the world’s museums.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.