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66 million-year-old triceratops skeleton, world's biggest, goes for $7.7 million

The skeleton, known as "Big John," was found in South Dakota in 2014.

PARIS — The world’s biggest triceratops skeleton, known as “Big John,” was sold for 6.6 million euros ($7.7 million) Thursday to a private collector at a Paris auction house.

The enormous skeleton, estimated to be over 66 million years old, was found in 2014 in South Dakota. The triceratops is known for its three horns on the head.

Big John, named after the owner of the land where it was found, is certified by the Guinness World Records as the largest documented skeleton of a triceratops. The dinosaur died in an ancient flood plain on the island continent stretching from present-day Alaska to Mexico, allowing the conservation of its skeleton in mud.

The skeleton is 7.15 meters long (23 feet) and stands 2.7 meters high (8 feet) at the hips. The skull represents more than one third of its total length, with two large horns over 1.1 meter long (3.6 feet).

Auction officer Violette Stcherbatcheff gestures next to the world's biggest triceratops skeleton, known as "Big John," during its auction Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 in Paris.Francois Mori / AP

The hammer price at the Drouot auction house, before commission and other costs, was 5.5 million euros.

“It’s a record for Europe,” auctioneer Alexandre Giquello said.

Big John’s skeleton is more than 60% complete and its skull more than 75% complete, making it unique.

“The overall quality of Big John really deserved this price,” Iacopo Briano, a paleontology expert, said. “For a triceratops and for an herbivore. This is unbelievable record,” he said.

Last year, a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton reached almost $32 million in an auction in New York, becoming the most expensive dinosaur ever sold.

Big John was sold to a private U.S. buyer who requested to remain anonymous.

Djuan Rivers, a representative for the buyer, said “it’s being acquired by an American collector... absolutely thrilled with the idea of being able to bring a piece like this to his personal use.”

“The history behind this and the duration of it is absolutely impressive. So to be able to be a part of preserving something of this nature... it’s also something extremely special,” Rivers added.