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Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Famous 'Big John' dinosaur skeleton - the most complete set of triceratops bones ever discovered - will be auctioned in Paris next month for an estimated $1.8 million

 A famed dinosaur skeleton that is the most complete set of triceratops bones ever discovered will go up for auction next month - and are estimated to fetch $1.8 million. 

The skeleton, affectionately named 'Big John', is more than 60 percent complete and its skull is 75 percent complete, Drout, the auction house, handling the sale, said on its website.

Big John is 66-million-years old, with his skull measuring 8.6 feet (2.6 meters) long and 6.6 feet (2m) wide. The horns on the massive dinosaur are each 3.6 feet (1.1m) long and almost 12 inches wide. 

They allowed the formidable creature to withstands 16 tons of pressure, according to New Atlas.  

Drouot estimates Big John will sell for $1.4-$1.8 million when the remains go under the hammer in Paris next month. 

'I imagine there are about 10 buyers worldwide for this kind of piece,' said Alexandre Giquello, who is leading the sale. 

The fossilized remains of 'Big John', the largest triceratops ever discovered, will be sold at auction next month. The skeleton is more than 60% complete and its skull is 75% complete

The fossilized remains of 'Big John', the largest triceratops ever discovered, will be sold at auction next month. The skeleton is more than 60% complete and its skull is 75% complete

The first bones were discovered in May 2014 by geologist Walter W. Stein Bill in the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota

The first bones were discovered in May 2014 by geologist Walter W. Stein Bill in the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota

The first bones were discovered in May 2014 by geologist Walter W. Stein Bill in the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota. 

Since then, 60 percent of Big John's skeleton has been found, including its nearly-complete skull. In total, more than 200 of the dinosaur's bones have been unearthed.

Since then, 60 percent of Big John's skeleton has been found, including its nearly-complete skull. In total, more than 200 of the dinosaur's bones have been unearthed

Since then, 60 percent of Big John's skeleton has been found, including its nearly-complete skull. In total, more than 200 of the dinosaur's bones have been unearthed

There is a laceration on Big John's collar, which is likely 'evidence of a duel with another, smaller triceratops in which Big John was reportedly injured'

There is a laceration on Big John's collar, which is likely 'evidence of a duel with another, smaller triceratops in which Big John was reportedly injured'

According to Drout, there is a laceration on Big John's collar, which is likely 'evidence of a duel with another, smaller triceratops in which Big John was reportedly injured,' the auction house wrote on its website. 

'These violent fights took place during the life of these animals, probably for reasons of territorial defense or courtship.'

In October 2020, the skeleton was sent to the Zoic workshop in Trieste, Italy for restoration, New Atlas added.

The giant herbivore lived in Laramidia (also the home of Tyrannosaurus rex), an island continent that stretched from Alaska to Mexico. 

Big John died in a floodplain, which allowed his skeleton to be preserved in mud, Drout added.

Big John will be exhibited in an emblematic square in Italy before heading over to France in October for the public to see, prior to the October 21 auction. 

Other dinosaur fossils have sold for significant sums in recent memory, including two allosaurs sold for $1.66 million (1.4 million euros) and $3.56 million (3 million euros) in 2018 and 2020, respectively, the auction house said.

A diplodocus fossil was sold for $1.66 million (1.4 million euros) in 2018 as well.

Once primarily sold to museums, dinosaur remains have increasingly attracted private buyers, though their numbers remain few.

In October 2020, a 40ft-long T. rex fossil sold for a record-breaking $31 million at auction, nearly four times the previous record of a dinosaur fossil. 

WHAT MADE THE TRICERATOPS SO FIERCE? 

Triceratops were herbivores and had two big horns over their eyes and a smaller nose horn, as well as a parrot-like beak and a large frill that could reach nearly 1 meter (3 feet) across.

According to the Natural History Museum in London, UK, its horns could have been used to ward off attacks from Tyrannosaurus rex, one of its main predators. 

A partial Triceratops fossil found in 1997 had a horn that was bitten off, with bite marks that match T. rex. 

Triceratops likely lived in herds to warn each others of danger and reduce their chances of being targeted by predators. Pictured is a reconstruction of what a Triceratops may have looked like 

Triceratops likely lived in herds to warn each others of danger and reduce their chances of being targeted by predators. Pictured is a reconstruction of what a Triceratops may have looked like 

There have also been puncture marks found on fossil frills showing that male Triceratops also used their horns to fight each other, perhaps to impress females. 

Triceratops' frills could have been used to attract mates, or as a way for members of the same species to recognize one another, or to regulate body temperature.

Triceratops likely lived in herds to warn each others of danger and reduce their chances of being targeted by predators. 

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