World's Biggest Triceratops Skeleton Up for Auction, Expected to Sell for More Than $1.4 Million

Bidding on the dinosaur skeleton — dubbed "Big John" — will begin on Oct. 21 at the Drouot auction house in Paris

Triceratops skeleton
Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty

The world's largest Triceratops skeleton is up for sale — but owning the prehistoric decor will cost any buyer a pretty penny.

At over 26 feet, this 66-million-year-old Triceratops fossil named "Big John" is the largest specimen of its kind ever found, according to French auctioneers Binoche et Giquello.

The skeleton is expected to sell for at least $1.4 million (1.2 million Euros) and $1.7 million (1.5 million Euros) at the Drouot auction house in Paris on Oct. 21, according to CNN.

The dinosaur lived in what is now modern North America and is believed to have died in an ancient flood in South Dakota — which is where geologist Walter W. Stein Bill first discovered one of the bones in May 2014, per CNN and Reuters.

Big John's fossils were unearthed the following year, Reuters said, and were restored.

Paleontologists have raised red flags about such sales in the past, including when, last year, the world's most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton was auctioned off for a record $31.8 million, the New York Times reported at the time.

Triceratops skeleton

In September 2020, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology criticized Christie's auction house about the skeleton's purchase and the impact it has on researchers studying the extinct animals.

In a statement, the SVP said, "Scientifically important vertebrate fossils are part of our collective natural heritage and deserve to be held in public trust," the Times reported.

Big John certainly earns his moniker. The beast had a skull that measures eight feet and seven inches long and six feet seven inches wide on its own. It also had two massive horns that were three feet and seven inches long and roughly one foot wide at the base.

Among the creature's battle scars is a laceration on his collar. Auctioneers believe Big John sustained the injury from a smaller Triceratops while either defending his territory or courting a mate.

Unlike most dinosaurs, which have been dug up in herds, Triceratops fossils "are usually found individually," per the U.K.'s Natural History Museum, "suggesting they may have spent much of their lives alone."

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