Tyrannosaurus rex skull expected to fetch £13m at US auction

Fossil named Maximus unearthed in South Dakota rated one of most complete T rex skulls ever found

A Tyrannosaurus rex skull discovered in South Dakota is expected to sell for between $15 and $20m (£13m-£17m) when it is auctioned next month in New York, Sotheby’s has said.

The 76m-year-old skull, nicknamed Maximus, is being sold by an anonymous seller at a live auction on 9 December.

The skull, which weighs 91kg (200lb) and measures about two metres, is said to be one of the most complete specimens ever found and rivals those held in museum collections. It was excavated in 2020 and 2021 in Harding county, South Dakota, where the T rex skeletons named Sue and Stan were found. The area has been dubbed “the world capital for T rexes”.

Sue, the first dinosaur sold at auction, fetched $8.3m in 1997. Stan, the fifth-most complete T rex skeleton discovered to date, sold for $31.8m in 2020; it went to a mystery buyer later found to be the Natural History Museum Abu Dhabi, where it is due to go on display in 2025.

Most of the remains of Maximus were destroyed by erosion. “But this T rex fossil is an extraordinary discovery,” said Henry Galiano, a paleontologist consultant for the auction house.

“Unearthed in one of the most concentrated areas for T rex remains, the skull retained much of its original shape and surface characteristics with even the smallest and most delicate bones intact, with an extremely high degree of scientific integrity. Without the work of experienced field palaeontologists, who carefully collected and preserved this skull, it may have eroded away and been lost to science forever.”

Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s head of science and popular culture, said two large puncture holes in the skull were evidence that the animal had been in a fight, probably with another T rex.

“We don’t know that this is what caused the death of this animal, but we can tell that it did have a major battle during its lifetime,” she said.


Rupert Neate

The GuardianTramp

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