A Montana fossil of two dinosaur skeletons, known as “Dueling Dinosaurs,” will be auctioned off in New York Tuesday and could sell for more than $9 million if a bidding war ensues. The fossil was discovered in 2009 and is part of Bonhams’ “Montana Dueling Dinosaurs & Distinguished Fossils” auction.
Bonhams has attached an estimate of $7 million to $9 million for the Dueling Dinosaurs fossil. According to the auction house, the fossils were unearthed from Hell Creek in 2006. Per the description, “Dubbed the 'Dueling Dinos,' the specimens are preserved in a sensational pre-historic death match between predator and prey.” The fossil is just the second ever discovered that depicts predator and prey together.
The two dinosaurs captured mid-fight are Nanotyrannus lancensis, known as a Dwarf Tyrant and a relative to Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a species of Chasmosaurine Ceratopsian, a Triceratops-like dinosaur. Bonhams notes that the huge dinosaurs suffered fatal wounds during the brawl. The teeth of the Dwarf Tyrant’s skull and chest may have been kicked in while its teeth were found in the skull of the Chasmosaurine Ceratopsian.
In addition to the dramatic action sequence, the fossil could be a boon to researchers as the two skeletons are intact and the fossil includes preserved soft tissue. The Dwarf Tyrant skeleton is just the second such example and could be used to determine if the dinosaur is a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex or deserving of its own genus. According to the Associated Press, Bonhams hopes the Dueling Dinosaurs fossil finds a home with a philanthropist who will donate the piece to a museum or university.
Thomas E. Lindgren, co-consulting director of the Natural History Department at Bonhams, said in a statement, "Offering the 'Dueling Dinos' at Bonhams in November is the highlight of my career. They are one of the most significant dinosaur discoveries ever in North America."
The Dueling Dinosaur fossil is just one of several big ticket items in the auction. A mounted Tyrannosaurs Rex skeleton, pieced together from Hell Creek and another nearby Montana site, measuring 38 feet in length, is estimated at $1.8 to $2.2 million. A mounted Triceratops skeleton has an auction estimate of $700,000 to $900,000 while a massive Megalodon jaw is estimated at $300,000 to $400,000.
A preview of the auction, courtesy of Bonhams, as well as an in-depth look at the Dueling Dinosaurs fossil, can be viewed below.