A rare juvenile dinosaur skeleton is going under the hammer in Sussex. The Allosaurus is the first predatory dinosaur skeleton and the first relatively complete juvenile Allosaurus skeleton to be sold in the UK.
It was found in a quarry in Wyoming, and is in great condition. Getting the bones out of the ground was no easy task. Errol Fuller, who is curating the sale, explains: “The rocks at this quarry have weathered in such a way that the actual bones often lie at, or close to the surface, but this doesn’t mean that the job of extracting them is an easy one. The rock is hard and each bone has to be carefully chipped and scraped from its stony case.”
Rupert can der Werff, director at Summers Place Auctions, which is holding the sale, said he was expecting a lot of European and Asian interest. He explained: “The Allosaurus, together with the T-Rex, has become the quintessentially large, carnivorous dinosaur in western popular culture. Given the size of this Allosaurus it also adds the cute factor and it may not just attract interest from museums, but could also be the wow factor in a luxurious living room.”
Dinosaurs at auction
It’s fairly unusual to see a dinosaur at auction, but it does happen every few years. One of the most recent high profile sales was in 2013, when a 17 metre Diplodocus called Misty (from the same quarry) was sold at the same auction house. That one fetched £488,000, and although the buyer wanted to remain anonymous, they did say the skeleton would go on public display.
Other dinosaur auctions have been less straightforward. Two fighting dinosaurs, which had been dug up entwined, failed to meet their reserve price at an auction in 2013.
Meanwhile a sale in 2011 had an even more unexpected ending. The Tyrannosaurus skeleton sold at an auction in New York for $1 million, but was then taken into custody by the US Department of Homeland Security. A year later it was ruled to have been taken from the Mongolian government unlawfully, and it was returned to them.