World's Largest Triceratops Skeleton Is Up for Auction

The 66-million-year-old behemoth could be yours for an estimated $1.4 million.
Irmak Bayrakdar
The Big John.Binoche et Giquello

Ever wanted to have a dinosaur? Well, now you can actually buy one of the most iconic dinosaurs, or at least the fossilized remains of it. 

The fossilized skeleton of a 66-million-year-old behemoth of a Triceratops is now going on sale at an auction house in Paris, France. 

Lovingly named "Big John", the Triceratops is the largest specimen ever found on Earth. The iconic Triceratops were herbivorous dinosaurs and could be easily identified with their uniquely shaped skulls and the three horns on their faces with two located on their forehead and one on their nose. Hence, the name Triceratops literally translates as "three-horned face" in Greek.

"Big John" the Triceratops's big features

These dinosaurs were native to North America, and Big John's bones were found in what is now South Dakota back in 2014. The researchers have confirmed that Big John lived in Laramidia, an island continent stretching from present-day Alaska to Mexico. And since he died in a floodplain where no biological activity was present, his skeleton was able to remain well-preserved in the mud. 

After years of excavation work in the United States, Big John was sold to an Italian restoration and presentation company located in Trieste, Italy. Later, an Italian team consisting of researchers from the University of Bologna and the University of Chieti cleaned and put together each piece of fossil in order to reconstruct the dinosaur's skeleton. Iacopo Briano, a paleontologist who led Big John's reconstitution project, told France Inter that "[they] realized that Big John is 5 to 10% larger than all the other triceratops known to date. It is a masterpiece, especially since there are a lot of Triceratops skulls in the world, but very few near complete."

What makes Big John stand out from his previously unearthed peers is his huge stature of 26 feet (8 meters). According to the auction house, he has a skull that is 8.7 feet long (2.62 meters) and 6.7 feet wide (2 meters) with horns that are 3.7 feet long (1.1 meters) and more than 11.8 inches wide (30 centimeters) and back in his day, he was very well able to withstand 16 tons of pressure. 

Currently, Big John's skeleton is almost complete with over 60% of its body bones and 75% of its skull intact. Before going on auction in the Drouot building between October 18 and 21, the skeleton will be exhibited in a well-known square in Italy. The auctioneers predict that the skeleton will be sold for an estimated price of $1.4 to $1.77 million. 

If any scientists or paleontologists happen to be in Paris during the said dates and have the means to buy Big John in the name of science, it would be a change for the good. Seeing such intricate fossils collecting dust in a private gallery instead of being open access for students and enthusiasts to study and admire would be a pity.

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