Collectors with a ravenous appetite for dinosaur fossils will soon be able to sink their teeth into a rare specimen at Sotheby’s, where one of the best preserved skeletons of the terrifying apex predator Gorgosaurus—a smaller but perhaps faster and more vicious cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex—be offered at its natural history auction on July 28.
With a presale estimate of between $5 million to $8 million, Sotheby’s hopes the 10-foot-tall and 22-foot-long fossil—the only complete one of Gorgosaurus to ever come to auction—will rival some notable recent auctions of paleontological remains, including Christie’s sale of a raptor skeleton that brought in $12.4 million last May. Earlier this year, it was revealed that a T. rex skeleton sold for a record $31.8 million at Christie’s in October 2020 was bought by Abu Dhabi for a new natural history museum set to open there in 2025.
Gorgosaurus was a type of tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur that roamed what is now the Western plains of North America during the Late Cretaceous Period (Campanian), about 76 million years ago. The carnivorous predator was related to Tyrannosaurus rex, predating it by about 10 million years, and shared distinctive features with that species, including a large head with serrated, sharp teeth, and short, two-fingered front limbs. It could have weighed up to two tons, paleontologists believe, and hunted in packs of four.
The Gorgosaurus fossil offered at Sotheby’s was discovered in the Judith River Formation near Havre, Montana, in 2018. It is notable for its remarkable condition, with the skeletal remains of the fierce looking creature preserved as a result of sediments slowly building up around it on the prehistoric river bed where it was found.
According to Sotheby’s, the specimen has a particularly well-preserved skull, including the three major bones that create the orbit, which distinguishes the Gorgosaurus from the T. rex. The sale is a rare chance for a private collector to acquire such a piece, the auction house adds, since all the other examples of Gorgosaurus are held by public museums.
“In my career, I have had the privilege of handling and selling many exceptional and unique objects, but few have the capacity to inspire wonder and capture imaginations quite like this unbelievable Gorgosaurus skeleton,” said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s global head of science and popular culture.
The dinosaur remains can be viewed in person at Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries in New York, from July 21–28.