A Tyrannosaurus rex skull discovered in South Dakota is expected to sell for $15 million or more at auction in New York next month, Sotheby’s officials said Tuesday.
The auction house said a 200-pound (91 kilogram) skull fossil, nicknamed Maximus, is being sold on December 9 by an owner who wishes to remain anonymous.
According to Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s head of science and popular culture, the skulls were excavated in 2020 and 2021 in Harding County, South Dakota, where other T. rex skeletons such as those of Sue and Stan were found. He called the region “the world capital for T. rex”.
Most of the remains of this T. rex were destroyed by erosion over time, but Sotheby’s experts said the skull was a major find. “When you think about it, more people can fit a skull in their home than there are people who can fit a full dinosaur,” Hatton said.
Sotheby’s experts said the 6 1/2-foot (2-meter) fossil is about 76 million years old and still contains most of the outer skull bones and many teeth.
Hatton said the two large puncture holes in the skull were evidence of a major battle, probably with another T. rex. “We don’t know if this is what caused the death of this animal, but we can tell that it fought a great battle during its lifetime,” she said.
Studying the marks on the skull is interesting “because they give us an idea of what life was like during the Cretaceous period,” Hatton said.
However, this sample cannot be sent to a research institute. “It’s the ultimate trophy,” Hatton said. “To keep in your house.”