Paris Auction: A 150-Million Year Allosaurus’ Skeleton to Fetch Around $1 Million
Paris Auction: A 150-Million Year Allosaurus' Skeleton to Fetch Around $1 Million
The skeleton of an Allosaurus which prowled for prey around Wyoming more than 150 million years ago is set to fetch around £1million at auction.
The rare fossil is on display at the Hôtel Drouot auction house in Paris, where it will be auctioned by Maison Binoche et Giquello on October 13.
It was discovered in Johnson County, Wyoming, which is one of seven US states the carnivores would have roamed in the Late Jurassic period between 145 and 161 million years ago.
This particular skeleton is estimated to be more than 150 million years old, measuring 11.5ft high and 33ft long.
It is expected sell for between £906,700 (€1million) and £1.08million (€1.2million) at auction next week.
The Allosaurus, meaning ‘different reptile’, was one of the earliest dinosaur discoveries, and is considered to be the ‘grandfather’ of the Tyrannosaurus rex by palaeontologists.
The theropod dinosaur is not commonly uncovered by experts despite having frequented plains and lowland in North America in the Late Jurassic period.
It was the most common large carnivore of the era in seven US states, including Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, with strong, three-fingered forelimbs and sharp claws.
The dinosaur also had powerful hind legs and recurved, dagger-like teeth, which experts at the University of Wyoming say is evidence the Allosaurus was a ‘formidable predator.’
The Allosaurus was named by palaeontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in 1877, after a fossil discovered in Middle Park near Granby, Colorado was obtained by geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden in 1869.
The bones had initially been identified by locals as ‘petrified horse hoofs’, but it was later confirmed to be half of a tail vertebra. At first, the remains were tentatively assigned to the European genus Poekilopleuron.
Palaeontologist Joseph Leidy later gave the tail vertebra its own genus, Antrodemus.
The predator was known by this name for much of the 20th century, before a study of remains from the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur quarry brought the name Allosaurus back to prominence.
Remains of the Allosaurus have also been discovered in Portugal and the dinosaur is believed to have roamed Tanzania.
The carnivore is thought to have preyed on large herbivorous dinosaurs, with potential victims including contemporaneous stegosaurids and ornithopods.
Evidence of cannibalism in the species was uncovered earlier this year when researchers discovered fossils covered with ancient bite marks.
Around 29 per cent of 2,368 fossil bones unearthed since 1981 from the Mygatt-Moore quarry in western Colorado have bite marks on them; this is six times more than is typically found elsewhere.
It was suggested marks on Allosaurus bones had been made by their own kind.
Writing in the Plos One journal, palaeontologist Dr Stephanie Drumheller-Horton said: ‘We’re not sure if the Mygatt-Moore preserves an unusually stressed ecosystem, where theropods like Allosaurus were eating any available food – including each other – or if this was actually normal behaviour for them, and our previous fossil collection strategies have led us astray.
‘With either result though, we know that these animals were more willing and able to bite into bones than we previously thought.’
The Allosaurus has featured heavily in many significant works of fiction, including Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel The Lost World.
It also appeared in in the 1956 film The Beast of Hollow Mountain and in The Valley of Gwangi, a Western fantasy film released in 1969.
More recently, the dinosaur featured in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in 2018.