An almost complete skeleton of a herbivorous Diplodocus dinosaur, found in Wyoming, has fetched amost half a million euros at an auction in England. Found on private land, the skeleton could be exported and sold.
An unidentified public institution purchased the female Diplodocus skeleton known as "Misty" for 400,000 pounds (480,000 euros, $651,000) on Wednesday. The 17-meter long and 6-meter tall skeleton was sold by Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst, south of London.
"It has been an awful lot of work and a very exciting project, and to finally get to this final conclusion, we are delighted," spokesman Rupert van der Werff said. "I can't tell you who bought it, but it is going on public display."
The herbivorous Diplodocus Longus is thought to be one of the largest animals ever to walk the earth, roughly 150 million years ago. It is most easily recognized by its long neck and tail, lending the creature a shape and posture that is sometimes compared to a suspension bridge.
The skeleton was discovered almost by accident at a quarry in Wyoming in 2009. German paleontologist and dinosaur hunter Raimund Albersdörfer sent his sons Benjamin and Jacob away from his main excavation site to search a nearby area that he thought less likely to yield major finds.
His boys returned excitedly with news of an enormous bone; nine weeks later, excavators had extracted "Misty's" almost-complete skeleton.
Having found the fossilized remains on private land, Albersdörfer was able to remove the fossils from the US. A team in Rotterdam cleaned and assembled the giant prehistoric jigsaw, before disassembling and transporting it to the UK for sale.
Perhaps the most famous Diplodocus Longus on display is the London Natural History Museum's "Dippy"; this exhibit was actually pieced together from two partial skeletons, showing how rare it is to find an almost-complete single diplodocus.
msh/ch (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)