Largest Triceratops Skeleton Ever Found, 'Big John,' Hits The Auction Block

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The word's largest known triceratops skeleton, 'Big John', will be up for auction on 21 October at Paris, where it is expected to fetch up to €1.5m.

The world's largest known triceratops skeleton, 'Big John', will be up for auction on October 21st at Paris’s Drouot auction house where it is expected to fetch up to $1.7 m. Triceratops are known to have roamed the planet some 66 million years ago and, while they were one of the largest creatures from the Cretaceous periodtriceratops were plant-eating herbivores that used their large frames and ferocious appearance as defense from predators.

According to the UK's Natural History Museum, a triceratops skull is one of the largest of any land animal in history. Dubbed Big John, this particular specimen lived in Laramidia, an island continent which stretched from present-day Alaska to Mexico. Like any triceratops, it had three horns, a bird-like beak and is believed to have died in an ancient flood plain now known as the Hell Creek geological formation in South Dakota.

The skeleton, which was discovered in May 2014 by geologist Walter W. Stein Bill, went on display in Paris earlier this week. It will go under the auction hammer next month, and unlike the unrealistic dinosaur auctions in the second Jurassic World flick, this one will be very real. Big John has a skull and bony collar that measures 2.62 meters long and 2 meters wide, while its two large horns each measure more than a meter. The skull alone weighs more than 700kg, which is a significant portion of its overall body weight. Fully-formed adults could also measure up to 9 meters in length, although Big John is believed to have only been around the 8-meter mark.

It is worth noting that only about 60% of Big John's skeleton has been recovered, while the skull is about 75% complete. The skeleton was painstakingly put together by joining more than 200 assorted bones to give it its current form. The restoration was carried out in Italy at the Zoic workshop, where specialists restored the prehistoric skeleton. Researchers have also found a laceration on Big John's collar, which suggests it was seriously injured during its lifetime, possibly in a fight with another triceratops during a dispute over territory or a mate.

Dinosaur skeletons are hot property in the global auction scene, thanks in part to movies like Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. Last year, the skeleton of an Allosaurus, one of the oldest dinosaurs and a predecessor of the T-Rex, was snapped up by an anonymous buyer for more than €3m, almost twice the estimate. However, that's a pittance compared to the record $31.8 million that was paid last October for the skeleton of a T-Rex named Stan that researchers expected to fetch only between $6-$8 million. It will be interesting to see how much Big John goes for, but going by recent trends, it won't be a major surprise if it is significantly higher than the projected price.

Source: Drouot Paris /