updated 11/11/2009 7:43:34 PM ET 2009-11-12T00:43:34

A fossilized Tyrannosaurus rex that failed to sell at auction in Las Vegas last month has been bought by a private buyer who intends to see it displayed in a museum, an auctioneer told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Tom Lindgren, a natural history specialist for auction house Bonhams & Butterfields, said the buyer is talking with several museums in North America that want to showcase the bones of the 40-foot-long, 7.5-ton dinosaur that lived 66 million years ago. Lindgren said the buyer wants to keep the skeleton in the United States.

Lindgren said he could not reveal who bought the T. rex dubbed "Samson" or say how much he paid for the bones because of an agreement with the buyer. He said the selling price was near pre-auction estimates of $5 million to $8 million.

"We expect her to be on public viewing within the next couple months, hopefully before Christmas," Lindgren told the AP. "She's found a very good home."

Lindgren said the buyer contacted at least four museums and found two that were interested. Lindgren said the buyer was discussing terms to loan the T. rex for display.

"By the time you look at the insurance and everything else that has to be provided, some of the museums may not be able to afford to have her," he said.

Deadly dinosBidders didn't meet a minimum price when Samson went on the block at the Venetian hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Auctioneers were hoping it would fetch $6 million, but the highest bid came in at only $3.7 million.

The T. rex found 17 years ago in South Dakota and its 170 fossilized bones represent more than half of the dinosaur's skeleton.

A similar T. rex fossil sold for $8.3 million in 1997 and is now housed at the Field Museum in Chicago. That dinosaur, named "Sue," is 42 feet long and has more than 200 bones.

Lindgren has said "Samson" is the third most complete T. rex skeleton ever discovered and has the "finest skull" of any T. rex ever found.

The female dinosaur's lower jaw was found by the son of a rancher in 1987, and the rest of its bones were excavated in 1992, Lindgren said. It was sold twice to private owners and was last owned by an American whom Lindgren wouldn't name.

"The fellow that owns her now has just as much an interest in science as I do, so it makes me feel good that we'll find a good exhibit space for her," Lindgren said.

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