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25 May 2022 7:06
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  •   Home > News > International

    Skeleton of Deinonychus antirrhopus, the dinosaur that inspired Jurassic Park's velociraptor, sold at auction for $17.9 million

    The most complete specimen of Deinonychus antirrhopus ever found sells at auction house Christie's for more than double the expected price, reflecting the rarity of dinosaur fossils going on public sale.

    A rare skeleton of the dinosaur that inspired Jurassic Park's deadly velociraptor has sold at auction for $US12.41 million ($17.9 million).

    The sale, to an undisclosed bidder, far exceeded the estimated price of $US4 million to $US6 million, reflecting the rarity of dinosaur fossils going on sale privately. 

    According to Christie's, the skeleton is the most complete Deinonychus antirrhopus specimen ever found, with approximately 126 fossil bones. 

    The skeleton, nicknamed Hector, was excavated in Wolf Creek, Montana, in 1964 and has been in private hands since. 

    According to the New York Times, it was excavated on private land by self-taught palaeontologists Jack and Roberta Owen and was acquired by unnamed private owners. 

    The dinosaur was named Deinonychus antirrhopus by palaeontologist John Ostrom, who first discovered the species in 1964.

    Deinonychus means “terrible claw,” for the sharp hind claw found on each of the species feet.

    It roamed the earth between 115 and 108 million years ago, moving on two legs and likely hunting other dinosaurs individually, according to the Smithsonian. 

    Dr Ostrom's study of the dinosaur established the evolutionary link between birds and dinosaurs.

    But it is its depiction in film and popular fiction that led to its celebrity status in popular culture. 

    The author Michael Crichton featured the dinosaur prominently in his novels Jurassic Park and The Lost World. But for dramatic effect he instead used the name of a smaller, related dinosaur Velociraptor.

    Director Steven Spielberg continued to use the name velociraptor for the on-screen depiction of the dinosaur in his film adaptions. 

    In reality, velociraptors were much smaller than Deinonychus antirrhopus, being about the size of a turkey. 

    Crichton had consulted Dr Ostrom for the novels, and was apologetic about the name change, according to Christie's. 

    According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the private sale of dinosaur skeletons is controversial, with palaeontologists concerned private collectors will hide specimens away from the public.

    Others suggest the high demand for specimens may open up private land for researchers and encourage more people to enter the field. 

    The skeleton has only been publicly exhibited once, at the Natural History Museum of Denmark from 2020 to 2021. 



    © 2022 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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