A near-complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, named “Trinity,” was sold at an auction in Switzerland on Tuesday for $6.1 million. Composed of nearly 300 bones excavated from three different sites in the United States, Trinity stood 12.8 feet high and was 38.1 feet long. Although it sold for less than the expected price, the final sale, which included the buyer’s premium and fees, amounted to more than $6 million.
The Koller auction house in Zurich, where Trinity was sold, noted that it was the first time a composite T-rex skeleton had gone up for auction in Europe, with the bones going to an unnamed private collector. The composite nature of Trinity’s skeleton may have deterred purists from bidding, according to Karl Green, the auction house’s marketing director.
Trinity was formed from fossils found in Montana and Wyoming between 2008 and 2013, with over half of the restored skeleton comprised of original bone material. The auction house highlighted the skull as a rare and well-preserved feature, which is unusual for dinosaur remains, as most are found without their skulls. Nils Knoetschke, a scientific adviser quoted in the auction catalogue, stated that Trinity’s skull bones were all original and from the same specimen.
The T-rex, whose name means “tyrant lizard king,” roamed the Earth between 65 million and 67 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period, which ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs. Researchers estimate that about 20,000 adult T-rexes lived in North America before they were wiped out.
Trinity was one of 70 items featured in the auction, with its skull placed next to the auctioneer’s podium during the bidding process. Two other T-rex skeletons, named Sue and Stan, were sold at previous auctions, with Sue purchased by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for $8.4 million over 25 years ago, and Stan sold for almost $32 million three years ago. Koller noted that the same regions that yielded the bones for Trinity also produced the specimens for Sue and Stan.
In 2019, a Paris auction sold a triceratops skeleton named “Big John,” declared the world’s biggest by Guinness World Records, for $7.2 million to a private collector.
Although the price of Trinity fell short of expectations, Karl Green stated that it was a fair price for the dino and expressed hope that it would be displayed somewhere in public. T-rex remains continue to fascinate the public, in part due to popular Hollywood films like the “Jurassic Park” franchise.