First-ever Gorgosaurus skeleton sells at auction for $6.1M to unknown buyer — scientists frustrated

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These fossils fetched a fortune.

A first-of-its-kind dinosaur skeleton was on the auction block at Sotheby’s live Natural History auction in New York City on Thursday, July 28, 2022.

The 77-million-year-old fossil, belonging to a Gorgosaurus, sold for $6.1 million to an unknown buyer.

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The bidder also won the right to give the dinosaur skeleton a name.

A Gorgosaurus dinosaur skeleton, the first to be offered at auction, at Sotheby’s New York, is shown on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in New York City. 
(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

Sotheby’s noted in a press release that the Gorgosaurus skeleton was one of the most valuable dinosaurs ever sold.

This Gorgosaurus was the first to appear at an auction, ever — and is one of only 20 known to exist.

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The dinosaur belonging to the Tyrannosaurid family measured nearly 10 feet tall and 22 feet long.

The carnivore reigned during the Late Cretaceous period, native to the area now known as western North America, according to Sotheby’s.

A Gorgosaurus dinosaur skeleton, the first to be offered at auction, is displayed at Sotheby's New York, on July 5, 2022, in New York City. 

A Gorgosaurus dinosaur skeleton, the first to be offered at auction, is displayed at Sotheby’s New York, on July 5, 2022, in New York City. 
(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

These fossils were found in the Judith River Formation near Havre, Montana, in 2018, which is a rare discovery south of the Canadian border.

Sotheby’s global head of science and popular culture, Cassandra Hatton, shared in a statement ahead of the auction that the prehistoric relic was an inspiration.

“Few [objects] have the capacity to inspire wonder and capture imaginations quite like this unbelievable Gorgosaurus skeleton.”

“I have had the privilege of handling and selling many exceptional and unique objects,” she said. 

“But few have the capacity to inspire wonder and capture imaginations quite like this unbelievable Gorgosaurus skeleton.”

A Sotheby's New York employee demonstrates the size of a Gorgosaurus dinosaur skeleton, the first to be offered at auction, on July 5, 2022, in New York City. 

A Sotheby’s New York employee demonstrates the size of a Gorgosaurus dinosaur skeleton, the first to be offered at auction, on July 5, 2022, in New York City. 
(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

But scientists and dino experts aren’t as optimistic about the historic exchange.

Although the sale of the dinosaur appears to be legal, Carthage College paleontologist Thomas Carr expressed in an interview with The New York Times that he’s “disgusted” by the lack of consideration for the scarcity of fossils available to the public.

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“I’m totally disgusted, distressed and disappointed because of the far-reaching damage the loss of these specimens will have for science,” he told the publication. “This is a disaster.”

The expert mapped out that there are about 50 T. Rex specimens — from full skeletons to singular bones — in public trust for research access, while the same amount are privately kept.

A Triceratops skull pictured with a Gorgosaurus skeleton in the background were both auctioned off at Sotheby’s live Natural History auction in New York on July 28, 2022.

A Triceratops skull pictured with a Gorgosaurus skeleton in the background were both auctioned off at Sotheby’s live Natural History auction in New York on July 28, 2022.
(Sotheby’s)

The number of Gorgosaurus specimen available for studying is even smaller.

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“The value of dinosaurs isn’t the price someone will pay,” he said. 

“It’s the information they contain.”

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