The complete skeleton of a dinosaur that lived at the end of the Cretaceous era has been sold Thursday in a Sotheby's auction in New York for US$ 6.1 million to an anonymous bidder who also purchased the rights to name the fossilized creature at will, it was announced.
The first Gorgosaurus was found in Alberta, Canada, in the early 1900s and the recently sold skeleton was discovered in 2018 at the Judith River Formation near Havre, Montana. It was the only one of its species that was available on the market for private collectors.
This dinosaur, called Gorgosaurus, is a relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex but faster and smaller, about three meters tall and more than six meters long, and only about 20 specimens have been found, which raised controversy among scientists who oppose the growing commercialization of fossils and the loss it may mean for paleontological research. However, the buyer may have been a museum or institution, as has happened on other occasions.
Sotheby's has a long history of selling dinosaur fossils. In 1997, it offered a complete skeleton named Sue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen which sold for US$ 8.36 million to the Field Museum in Chicago, where it can be visited, while Stan, also a Tyrannosaurus Rex, sold for US$ 31.8 million in 2020. The buyer was revealed this year by National Geographic to be a natural history museum being built in Abu Dhabi that will open in 2025.
The Gorgosaurus is a relative of the Tyrannosaurs Rex, but predates it by 10 million years. It was smaller than its ancestor - a T-rex grew up to 40 feet in length and 12 feet in height. The Gorgosaurus also features a bony plate over the top of its eyes and is believed to sport patches of feathers on its body.
The unnamed specimen was the main attraction at a natural history auction, which included other fossilized remains such as a giant triceratops skull and a raptor's killing claw. Bidding began online on July 20 and finished with a live auction Thursday.
Gorgosaurus stands for fierce lizard, as it was an apex carnivore that lived in what is now the western United States and Canada during the late Cretaceous Period.
Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby's global head of science and popular culture, said in a statement earlier this month that The discovery was particularly exceptional due to the rarity of Gorgosaurus material south of the Canadian border, this being one of only a tiny handful to be found in the United States.
There are at least 12 complete or nearly complete skulls of Gorgesauruses known to scientists, according to Live Science.