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SYFY WIRE Tyrannosaurus Rex

Complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton fetches record $31.8 million bones at auction

By Benjamin Bullard
Skull view of Tyrannosaurus rex sold at 2020 Christies auction

Maybe there’s something to the whole idea that things grow more valuable with time. In a record-shattering bidding war, a complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton landed in the hands of a Christie’s auction buyer this week, with the anonymous admirer laying down $31.8 million bones for the privilege of parking their own Jurassic terror at home — or anywhere else they please.

That kind of Cretaceous coin (the skeleton hails from the Late Cretaceous period, according to The New York Times) tore right through the previous auction record for dinosaur bones. A well-preserved dino named Sue (also a T. rex) sold for $8.36 million — or close to $13.5 million in today’s money — back in 1997. Any way you slice it, that’s a big bite — but looking on the bright side, at least Stan’s owner won’t have to feed him.

Full view of Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton sold at 2020 Christies auction

Named for Stan Sacrison, the amateur paleontologist who discovered the skeleton in 1987, the well-preserved fossil certainly looks ready for anything you can throw at it — money or otherwise. Stan’s skull and vertebrae still bear the puncture scars from what paleontologists believe were actual T. rex-on-T. rex battles that, judging by the markings, he won more often than his dino dueling partners.

Whoever takes possession of Stan will have a colossal shipping job on their hands. The unnamed buyer, who reportedly placed the winning bid through Christie’s London office, is getting a lot of dinosaur for the money, with Stan standing 13 feet tall and measuring 40 feet in length. Back in his prime, the specimen is estimated to have weighed close to 8 tons (16,000 pounds), easily catapulting present-day behemoths like the 3,000-pound adult beluga whale right off the other side of the scale (though a full-sized blue whale, the largest creature on Earth, could still swallow Stan almost whole, thanks to its 150-ton, 300,000-pound heft).

Though he’s not quite the biggest T. rex ever discovered, maybe Stan’s gargantuan size and, ahem, antique age (the Late Cretaceous spanned from 100.5 million to 66 million years ago) aren’t the only factors in shattering the old auction record. The fossilized remains still represent “one of the largest and most complete T. rex skeletons ever found,” according to Christie’s. Call it a hunch, but we’re guessing this is one showpiece of a dino fossil that’s likely never to get lost again.