An enormous dinosaur with a frilly collar and horns as big as you, is up for sale14 min readReading Time: 7 minutes
How tall are you? 4 feet tall? Maybe 5 feet? Perhaps a few of you may even be 6 feet tall. Well, don’t worry, you’ll still be smaller than just the head of the dinosaur up for auction next month. That’s right, someone is about to own the real skeleton of almost an entire dinosaur, and everyone who visits them is about to feel incredibly small.
So, what’s happening? And what Skeleton? Moreover, can you buy these jumbo bones? Let’s find out.
This year, on the 21st of October, the Drouot auction house in Paris is about to put a very large dinosaur, Big John, up for auction. Rumour has it that this particular prehistoric creature will be sold for between 1.4 and 1.8 MILLION dollars. That’s at least 10 crore rupees!!
— Binoche et Giquello (@BGiquello) August 30, 2021
An auction is an event where items are sold without a fixed price. These items are so valuable that people compete to own them. That means people from far and wide will offer to pay different amounts of money for this dinosaur to become their own private possession. The person with the highest offer or bid will then go home with the item.
An offer made at an auction is known as a bid.
Now, let’s meet the dinosaur himself– a round of applause— for Big John.
People are expected to bid at 10 crores for the collection of bones that made up this dinosaur’s body. So, what is it about Big John that makes him so highly sought-after?
Meet and Greet the Triceratops
Triceratops’ bony head plate and three horns would attract mates, scare off their enemies, and protect their necks.
The massive skull of triceratops was one-third the length of its entire body!
Triceratops dinosaurs were about 25 feet long and around 10 feet tall. Here’s a clue for you to better understand just how tall the triceratops was. It was about as long as a bus and about half as tall as a giraffe.
They may be humongous and terrifying, but if you ever encounter a triceratops dinosaur, you don’t need to fear. Triceratops’ were a vegetarian genus of dinosaurs.
When we say that Big John is a triceratops, what do we really mean? You may think that it’s the equivalent of calling ourselves human. Not quite. Human or Homo sapiens sapiens is the species to which we belong. However, Big John’s species is not known.
Nonetheless, we do know a broader group within the animal kingdom that perfectly encompasses Big John. That group or genus is known as ‘triceratops’. Look at this image to understand how Big John fits into our very own animal kingdom.
Triceratops’ skeletons have been found across the North American Continent, and they roamed the planet between 67 and 65 million years. Check out this chart to better understand when these vegetarian giants traipsed around.
The Biggest Triceratops
Big John is the enormous triceratops that is up for sale this year. Scientists were able to piece together a whopping 60 per cent of Big John’s skeleton, and over 75 per cent of his skull is fully intact. Once all of Big John’s bones were assembled by a team of scientists, they realised that not only is Big John a magnificent Triceratops, but he is also the biggest one that there is. No wonder Big John comes at such a hefty price.
Big John’s Skull weighs over 700 kilograms!
Discovering Big John
Walter W. Stein, a dinosaur enthusiast and palaeontologist, dug up Big John on an excursion in 2014. Stien found Big John in Hell Creek Formation, a site well-known for its rich collection of well-preserved fossilised bones. In fact, almost all of the triceratops discovered so far have been found in this area.
Hell Creek Formation is now in the state of South Dakota in the United States of America. However, when Big John roamed the place, the famous dinosaur hub was a part of a small one-island continent that we humans have named Laramidia.
How did Big John’s fossil move between continents while staying in the exact same place?
Big John’s big brawl
Hell Creek Formation is a flood plain or an area that often gets flooded. And every time the flooding is over and the water dries up, a layer of mud is left behind. Millions of years ago, when Big John died, he too was covered by thick mud, which enabled the bones to fossilise.
Big John’s bones were so well preserved that scientists could identify a tiny dent in his collarbone. Scientists believe that this preserved dent suggests that the triceratops was wounded during a violent fight. They think that this big brawl was probably the result of a fight over territory or a possible mate.
Can you own Big John?
If you have 10 crores in the bank, fire up your jet because you can definitely own Big John. If you don’t, you’re just going to have to wait a while.
But, as exciting as it may seem to own a dinosaur, scientists are concerned that if these fossils fall into the wrong hands, they could be lost to science forever. Most of the time, pieces like this are bought by museums or research centres that allow scientists and palaeontologists to access the fossil. However, occasionally, and more so in the recent past, rich people buy these fossils for their own amusement or with the goal of selling them for more money as the years pass and they become more and more valuable.
While most people may loan their fossils and artefacts to researchers and museums, there could be an odd person that keeps the fossil to themselves, and no one will be able to do anything about it.
Can anything be done if the Big John’s buyer decides not to share the Triceratops’ skeleton? If yes, what can be done? If no, why can’t anything be done?