World’s largest dinosaur fossil auctioned for a historic $31.8mn

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Stan T-Rex Image
Stan's auction broke all previous records in T-Rex bidding prices

One of the world’s largest and most complete fossil of a dinosaur species, Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex, the dinosaur species), was auctioned for a record $31.8 million by Christie’s, a British auction house in New York.

The price is nearly four times more than the earlier highest bid for a dinosaur. The 67 million-old specimen greatly exceeded the auction company Christie’s opening price expectation, which was between $6 million and $8 million dollars, indicating the lasting power of the T-Rex. It also slashed the earlier record set by a T-Rex named Sue that was traded for $8.4 million in October 1997 by Sotheby’s to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, US.

The fossil, nicknamed Stan, is one of the most popular T-Rex fossils in the world and is among the only 50 excavated since the first in 1902, with most exhibited in the museums. The Tyrannosaurus has been on display for years at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota, US. 

Within the first two minutes of commencing of the auction itself, the bid touched $9 million and after 14 minutes only three bidders were left in the sale until the hammer came down on an offer of $27.5 million USD, to which the costs and commissions were added.

The auction was hosted in New York, where the expert appraisers were present while the lines were open to Hong Kong and London, where the company’s professionals were attending the calls from collectors.

As per the law, such specimens can only be auctioned if the fossil was discovered on private land, which in Stan’s case it was. The fossil was founded in 1987 by amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison, hence the fossil’s name, from the US. At first, it was misidentified as a common Triceratops (a genus of herbivorous dinosaur) but later in 1992 experts identified it as a T-Rex.

Stan is one of the most complete T-Rex fossils ever unearthed, with 188 bones, stands 13 feet tall and 40 feet long, with stab marks in the skull and neck that specialists thinks as an evidence of fights with fellow T-Rexes. Its teeth are over 11 inches length and Stan has often been used as the model for T. Rex figurines and depictions.

Paleontologists suggest that the T. Rex would have been of 7 to 8 tons weight at his peak, showed evidence of a tough and harsh life and was around 20 years old when it died.

It took more than 30,000 hours for the paleontologists from the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota to carefully dig out the bones which was later fixed and exhibited.

The buyer of Stan will get all 188 bones and the detailed support structure on how it should be installed. The terms of the sale also prevents the new owner from creating 3D models of the dinosaur.