Meet Big John. He’s 8 metres long, 66 million years old, and looking for a new home.
Big John is the largest known surviving example of a Triceratops fossilised skeleton, with a skull some 2 metres wide and 2.6 metres long — far larger than an adult human.
The skull is 75 per cent complete along with some 200 bones, and large horns making up 60 per cent of the animal. They were assembled this week behind the windows of an exhibition gallery in central Paris.
The triceratops was among the most distinctive dinosaurs due to the three horns on its head — one at the nose and two on the forehead — that give the dinosaur its Latin name.
The Skull weighs in over 680KGs, the horns are over a metre long each, and 30cm in diameter at the base. Big John does bear the wounds of a difficult life, with a laceration in his collar from an altercation with a smaller triceratops, which the auctioneers said was due to territorial defence or courtship of a mate.
The herbivorous animals could reach up to 5,500 kilograms (866 stone) and 9 meters (29 feet) in length.
Big John was discovered, preserved in mud, in May 2014 in the US state of South Dakota by geologist Walter W Stein Bill. Its restoration was carried out in Trieste, Italy.
Big John is likely to fetch a pretty penny. It is estimated that it will sell for between 1.2 million and 1.5 million euros ($1.92 million to $2.88 million), though dinosaur auction sales have proved very unpredictable in the past.
Last year, Stan, one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever excavated, sold for a jaw-dropping $31.8 million US and became the most expensive dinosaur of all time in the process.
The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), was concerned at the time that “Fossil specimens that are sold into private hands are potentially lost to science.” And “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.”
Big John will be on display in Paris until it’s sake on October 21.