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One buyer for two dinosaurs in Paris

Louisa Wright with AFP
April 11, 2018

The skeletons of an Allosaurus and a Diplodocus were bought by a foreign buyer for more than €1.4 million each.

Dinosaur skeleton in Paris
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/F. Mori

The skeletons of an Allosaurus and a Diplodocus went under the hammer in a "Natural History" auction at French auction house Druout in Paris on Wednesday afternoon.

Druout described the "exceptional" prices raised for the two skeletons, which each made more than €1.4 million ($1.7 million). Without naming the buyer, the house said the same foreign entity had acquired both dinosaurs.

Read more: Field guides of the extinct: Princeton brings dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals to life

Dinosaur skeleton in Paris
A scientific consultant assembles the bones of a DiplodocusImage: Getty Images/AFP/S. Sakutin

There were 87 natural artifacts for bidders to drop their pennies on, including snake skeletons, ammonites, starfish, shells, and a taxidermied crocodile.

"The fossil market is no longer just for scientists," said Iacopo Briano of Binoche et Giquello.

The Allosaurus, which is considered "small" at 3.8 meters (12.5 feet) long, was expected to fetch up to €650,000, while the Diplodocus had a guide price of €450,000 to €500,000, despite being 12 meters long from nose to tail.

Carnivores such as the Allosaurus often fetch more than herbivores.

Read more: 'The dinosaurs were a little bit unlucky'

Another huge theropod skeleton is expected to fetch up to €1.5 million ($1.84 million) when it goes up for auction in June.

Dinosaur skeleton in Paris
A scientific consultant assembles the skeleton of a Diplodocus that is up for auctionImage: Getty Images/AFP/S. Sakutin

Hot competition

Read more: If it has a bill like a duck and walks like an ostrich — it's a dinosaur

"For the last two or three years the Chinese have become interested in paleontology and have been looking for big specimens of dinosaurs found on their soil, for their museums or even for individuals," Briano said.

New bidders have to compete against big multinational corporations as well as rich Europeans and Americans, who have been the "traditional" buyers in the past, Briano added. 

Read more: T. rex was no Usain Bolt, say scientists

In 1997, McDonald's and Walt Disney contributed to a total of $8.36 million (€6.75 million) to buy the world's most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex, named Sue, for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Around five dinosaur skeletons go to auction around the world each year.

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