June 16, 2024

The largest and most complete Stegosaurus fossil ever found is expected to fetch up to $6m (£4.7m) when it is sold as the star lot at Sotheby’s “geek week” auction this summer.

At 3.4 meters high and more than 20 feet long, the “virtually complete” fossil, nicknamed “Apex”, is more than 30% larger than “Sophie”, the previously most intact stegosaurus specimen which was on display in London’s Natural History Museum.

Cassandra Hatton, global head of science at Sotheby’s, said: “Apex is an incredibly important milestone as simply one of the finest fossils of its kind ever unearthed.

“Stegosaurus is one of the most universally recognizable dinosaur species, whose unmistakable silhouette has been a source of fascination and wonder for generations. Through the careful process of excavation, preparation and installation, Apex sets a new standard for all future discoveries of this magnitude, further reinforcing the enduring appeal of stegosaurus and its illustrious status in popular culture.

With an auction estimate of $4 million to $6 million, it could become one of the most valuable dinosaur fossils ever sold at auction. The record is held by Stan, A T rex skeleton auctioned by Christie’s for $31.8 million in 2020.

However, the dinosaur auction market was plunged into crisis in 2022 when Christie’s was forced to call off the £20m auction of another Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, named Shen, just days before it was due to go under the hammer after ‘ a famous paleontologist raised. concerns that parts of the sample looked too similar to Stan.

Apex has a 45-inch femur and 247 fossil bone elements, mounted in an aggressive attack stance. Photo: Matthew Sherman/Sotheby’s

Apex was discovered by commercial paleontologist Jason Cooper in the Morrison Formationin Moffat County, Colorado, nearby the town of Dinosaurusin May 2022.

Sotheby’s said it had “worked closely” with Cooper to “document the entire process, from discovery and excavation to restoration, preparation and assembly”, to ensure the documentation and sale were “handled with the highest standards and transparency”. Apex will be exhibited at Sotheby’s galleries in New York ahead of the sale in July.

The Stegosaurus is the most famous member of the armored dinosaurs (Thyreophorans), characterized by the characteristic shape and arrangement of dermal armor on its back, which extends from the neck to the tail.

The Apex fossil shows “no signs of combat or predation-related injuries; however, evidence of arthritis suggests that it lived to a great age”. It also has “an impressive femur length of 45 inches”.

Sotheby’s said Cooper, the founder of Trilobites of America and the co-owner of Dinosaur Corporation, had “unearthed numerous dinosaur specimens” in the US, many of which are now “housed in institutions around the world, with a significant number was gifted by him”.

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