Many believed the "Dueling Dinosaurs" fossil could break records at auction on Tuesday. The fossil, unearthed in Montana, depicts two dinosaurs locked in deadly combat, and the auction house Bonhams attached an estimate of $7 million to $9 million. But despite plenty of hype and attention, the fossil failed to reach its premium and was not sold.
The Associated Press reports the highest bid for the Dueling Dinosaur fossil was $5.5 million. The current record holder for highest price paid for a dinosaur fossil belongs to Sue, the T-Rex skeleton fossil that was sold for $7.6 million in 1997. This fossil, discovered in 2006, features fully articulated skeletons of a Nanotyrannus lancensis, known as a Dwarf Tyrant and a relative to Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a species of Chasmosaurine Ceratopsian, a Triceratops-like dinosaur.
The massive fossil, weighing 40 tons, includes skin tissue and is just one of two known fossils that include a carnivore and herbivore together. While the price may have been too steep for museums, the auction house was hoping a philanthropist would donate the fossil to a public institution, as it would have been a boon for researchers. The analysis could also help determine if the Dwarf Tyrant is worthy of its own genus or is just a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex.
With plenty of attention on Bonham's "Montana Dueling Dinosaurs & Distinguished Fossils" auction, held in New York, the "Dueling Dinosaurs" fossil went on the auction block but did not sell. The Dueling Dinosaurs fossil was not the only big ticket item up for auction that failed to sell. A mounted T-Rex skeleton, estimated at $1.8 million to $2.2 million, did not sell, nor did a mounted Triceratops skeleton, estimated at $700,000 to $900,000.