Buy a dinosaur skeleton and get to name a new species


If you fancy having a new species of dinosaur being named after you, all you need to do is buy the skeleton which is being sold by the Auguttes auction house in Paris this June.

Mind you, you’ll need a spare million, or two, to afford the privilege.

The single lot Aguttes sale in France on June 4th is unusual, said the organisers, for two main reasons: this is a unique, recently discovered skeleton of an unknown theropod and is the first auction of such a specimen destined for scientific study.

Eric Genest of Auguttes said: “My estimate for this dinosaur is € 1.2m to €1.8m. But this is only an estimate. The price for such a rare item can climb very fast because this is a still unknown dinosaur to which the buyer can give his name.”

The nine metre long skeleton still has 70% of the original bone conserved. It was discovered in the course of excavations a carried out in 2013 at a site on the Morrison Formation, an Upper Jurassic geological sequence laid down 155–148 million years ago that covers much of the western United States.

It was only in 2016, when the skeleton was being prepared by European specialists, that scientists noticed that the skeleton presented major anatomical differences from known allosaurs: it has more teeth and a more substantial pelvis with a broad suture between the pubic bones, while the scapulae (shoulder blades) are more elongated and there are also differences in the bones of the skull.

Kimmeridgian, Late Jurassic (157–152 million years ago) Morrison Formation, Wyoming, USA
Length: 8.70 metres end-to-end, approx. 9 metres laid flat Height: 2.60 metres

This specimen shows unexpected anatomical differences from the other large theropods of the Late Jurassic, opening a new line of palaeontological research all the more promising for the skeleton being 70 % complete.

These differences were observed and reported by palaeontologists Pascal Godefroit, a Belgian specialist known for his work on dinosaurs, and Simone Maganuco, of the Museum of Natural History, Milan.

The skeleton has been mounted on a stainless steel structure capable of supporting the weight of the skull, rather than having to replace it with a lighter, resin replica as is the case in most museum displays. This structure, whose lattice construction is a nod to Gustave Eiffel, also allows for individual bones to be removed for scientific study.

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