Gorgosaurus was related to the feared Tyrannosaurus rex, but was faster and had a stronger jaw, said Sotheby’s auction house, which offered the dinosaur as the highlight of today’s natural history auction.
The predator measured 2.8 meters in height and 6.7 meters in length. In the Late Cretaceous period, it lived in the territory of today’s United States and Canada.
“As the master hunter of its time, in which it probably hunted in packs of four, Gorgosaurus was a dominant force and a rare predator,” writes Sotheby’s. The auction house pointed out last year that, unlike most similar specimens, the impressive carnivore does not have a name – and launched a non-binding poll, in which the nickname Gorgeous George won.
The bones of the individual sold on Thursday were discovered in 2018 on private property in the central part of the US state of Montana. All other known fossils of the species are in museum collections, and the specimen sold on Thursday is the only one offered for a private collection.
“Gorgosaurus has never been offered at auction and the opportunity to share it with the public for the first time is an incredible pleasure and a career highlight for me,” Cassandra Hatton, who oversees Sotheby’s science and popular culture, said in a press statement.
Scientists are against selling fossils
However, CNN reminds that scientists and museums oppose the sale of rare fossils into private hands. Demand for dinosaur fossils remains high, experts say, driving up their price to the frustration of museums and other research institutions.
In 2020, a complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, still one of the most popular species among the public, sold for $31.8 million at an auction in New York. The specimen named Stan quadrupled the previous auction record for a dinosaur.
“In my opinion, it doesn’t do any good,” said paleontologist David Polly of the University of Bloomington in the US state of Indiana.
“Although there is no law in the US for fossils from private land, as a scientist I believe that fossils are important to all of us and really should be placed in public repositories where they can be studied – enjoyed and learned from the general public,” he added.
“I’m unhappy that dinosaurs have a price tag. But the issue is not black and white,” said paleobiologist Gregory Erickson of the University of Florida in Tallahassee. “Museums have a history of buying commercial specimens,” the expert pointed out.