A New Sales Record: Could an Unusually Complete Skeleton of a T. Rex Break Sales Records at Auction?

Credit: Christie's

One of the worlds largest, most famous and almost compete tyrannosaurus rex skeletons is up for sale at auction!

It has been announced that Christie’s will be auctioning off the world’s most famous tyrannosaurus rex skeleton on October 6. This T. Rex skeleton is so famous because it is one of the most complete skeletons that has ever been found.

Due to its fame and near-completion, it is estimated that the sale could reach as high as AUD$11 million (US$8 million), which would be the highest record price at an auction.

The skeleton is question stands 3.96 meters tall and is almost 12.19 meters long.

Stan, as the skeleton has been named, would be a fascinating addition to any museum. However, there is the unfortunate (and distasteful) possibility that this spectacular discovery could be bought by and housed in a random rich person’s private household collection, potentially to never been seen by the public ever again.

Despite this inherent possibility, the Christies are preparing this tyrannosaurus rex for auction at the 20th Century Evening Sale event in New York City this coming month.

Christie’s Science and Natural History Department head, James Hyslop stated that “it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to acquire a T. rex as complete as this.”

The acquisition of such an exquisite specimen is an extraordinary experience that only comes once in a lifetime.

The skeleton, which was originally titled as BHI 3033, has been estimated to auction off at approximately AUD$8 million (USD$6 million) to AUD$11 million (USD$8 million), or possibly even more. In 1997, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago set the record for an auctioned T. rex skeleton, purchasing a skeleton named Sue at auction for AUD$11 million (USD$8 million).

While Sue is actually bigger and more complete than Stan is, Christie’s believe that the current T. rex skeleton could still sell for more, explaining on their website that, despite his size and completion, Stan still “represents one of the most complete fossil skeletons of the most famous dinosaur species to ever have lived.”

Credit: Christie’s

If you’re wondering why they have named the previous BHI 3033 Stan, it is because it was amateur palaeontologist Stan Sacrison who discovered the fossil remains back in 1987. The skeletal remains were found on a private island near Buffalo, South Dakota. The bones were then pulled from the famous dinosaur-fossil producing division, Hell Creek Foundation. It has been stated that the skeleton, Stan, dates back to around 66 million to 67 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period.

Once the bones had been found on the private island, Christie’s states, it took around 30,000 hours of work to not only excavate all of the fossils but to piece the entire thing back together. This labour was performed entirely by paleontologists from the Black Hills Geological Research Institute beginning in 1992. It has been reported that the process took three years to complete.

Stan was not only used a display, but he was involved in some heavy scientific research.

Alongside being displayed in full at the Black Hills’ institute in Hill City, the remains of Stan’s skeleton were also involved in and contributed to extensive scientific research since their completion in the 90s.

After they produced an exact replica of the skeleton’s head in 2005, it was found that the tyrannosaurus’ bite force exerted four tons per square inch – which, according to their research, could completely flatten a car.

Credit: Christie’s

Further research that was conducted in 2012 has suggested the purpose of the T. rex’s teeth: their back teeth seem to be used to slice chunks of meat to help prepare for swallowing; their front teeth were built for pulling and gripping their prey, and their side teeth were suited for tearing the flesh of their food.

It was also concluded that Stan had survived numerous attacks from its own species from puncture marks that were found on his skull and fused vertebrae on his neck. Researchers believe that the tyrannosaurus rex died around 20 years of age.

Stan managed to survive multiple attacks from another tyrannosaurus rex’s.

Since 1902, approximately 50 tyrannosaurus rex skeletons have been found – and those nearing completion are extremely rare. While it would be tragic for Stan to be sold to a millionaire and never seen by the public again, the Hill City Black Hills Institute has produced dozens of replicas of the skeleton and sold them to museums around the world. Each replica was sold for AUD$136,500 (USD$100,000).

Until its auction date (October 21), Stan will be displayed at the Rockefeller Centre in New York City.