'Big John,' the world's largest Triceratops ever found, sells for $7.7 million

Published 21st October 2021
Credit: Courtesy Giquello
'Big John,' the world's largest Triceratops ever found, sells for $7.7 million
Written by Leah Dolan, CNN
The world's biggest Triceratops fossil ever found, a 66-million-old skeleton affectionately dubbed "Big John," has sold for €6.6 million ($7.7 million) -- smashing its high auction estimate of €1.5 million ($1.7 million).
The sale took place on Thursday afternoon at the Drouot auction house in Paris, where Big John was presented alongside a treasure trove of fossils, meteorites and other natural history artifacts.
The skeleton was first discovered in South Dakota by geologist Walter W. Stein Bill in 2014. It is thought the dinosaur lived in Laramidia, an enormous, ancient continent that, today, would have stretched between Alaska and Mexico.
After excavation, the muddied dinosaur remains were then restored in Italy, where archeologists were able to see its true size. Big John has a nearly 9-foot-long skull that stretches just over six-and-a-half feet wide, and the skeleton is more than 60% complete. According to the UK's Natural History Museum, Triceratops skulls are an evolutionary triumph and some of the "most striking" of all land animals.
Not everyone is likely to be excited by the sale of Big John, however. In September 2020, ahead of the Christie's sale of the Tyrannosaurus Rex called "Stan" -- which sold the following month for a record-breaking $31.8 million -- the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) voiced concerns to the auction house.
"Fossil specimens that are sold into private hands are potentially lost to science," they stated. "Even if made accessible to scientists, information contained within privately owned specimens and future access cannot be guaranteed, and therefore verification of scientific claims (the essence of scientific progress) cannot be performed."