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Entire Tyrannosaurus rex sells for $45 million

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
Stan, one of the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil discovered, is on display, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, at Christie's in New York. The T. rex named after the paleontologist who first found the skeleton's partially unearthed hip bones, will be auction on Oct. 6, 2020 and will be on public view from Sept. 16 - Oct. 21, 2020 to pedestrians through Christie's floor-to- ceiling gallery windows and a limited number of in-gallery viewings by appointment. Stan's head on the display is a casting of the original, which is too heavy for the display. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Stan, one of the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossils ever discovered, on display at Christie's in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

You know what they say, sometimes in life you just need to buy a $45 million fossilised Tyrannosaurus rex, named Stan.

The prehistoric giant sold at auction this week for US$31.85 million, making Stan the most expensive dinosaur ever sold.

And he’s old: clocking in at 67 million years old, the T. rex fossil was famous for its good condition.

The anonymous buyer purchased the giant fossil at an auction conducted by Christie’s, with the final price firmly eclipsing the US$6 to US$8 million initial sale estimate.

Most other T. rexes are owned and stored in museums, with Stan one of only 50. He’s been on display at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota, and boasts one of the most complete skeletons.

Why is Stan so Tyrannosaurus rexpensive?

Stan has 188 bones and huge teeth. He follows in the big footsteps of another auctioned T. rex, Sue, who sold for US$8.36 million in 1997.

"Stan rapidly became the 'Stan-dard' for T. rex, given there are so many casts of this extraordinary fossil that have been sold all over the world," British dinosaur expert Professor Phil Manning who has worked on Stan told the BBC.

This T. rex is likely the most famous T. rex in the world, with his skeletal structure the most duplicated in casts around the world.

Stan was dug up by amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison in the Cretaceous Badlands in South Dakota in 1987 before undergoing several tests and years of study.

His bones show he lived a rough life, with notable signs of wear showing Stan likely went through several bouts of illness and also experienced several attacks.

In fact, puncture wounds in Stan’s skull and rib cage suggest Stan was bitten by another T. rex. Another bite mark at the base of his skull shows his neck was once broken before healing painfully.

However, paleontologists are now concerned that these types of sales could encourage the private trade of dinosaur fossils, robbing scientists of research opportunities.

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in September wrote to Christie’s about the sale, requesting the auction be limited to bidders from “institutions committed to curating specimens for the public good and in perpetuity, or those bidding on behalf of such institutions”.

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