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Which Eccentric Millionaire Will Buy This Nearly Complete Diplodocus Skeleton That's Going Up for Auction?

By Andrew Liszewski on at

Thanks to modern palaeontology techniques, finding dinosaur fossils isn’t as difficult or random as it once was. There are now more skeletons to go around, but unfortunately, based on an upcoming auction at the Parisian auction house Aguttes, you’ll still need a couple million dollars of disposable cash to add a dinosaur to your private collection.

According to the Aguttes auction listing, this close relative of the Diplodocus is nearly 90 percent complete and exclusively assembled from a single specimen (many dinosaur skeletons feature bones collected from several different specimens) and has been nicknamed Skinny, but probably won’t mind if you call it something else once you get it home.

Skinny was discovered and excavated in 2012 (the GPS coordinates of where it was found will be provided to the winning bidder) and from 2018 to 2019 was preserved, restored, and assembled by a French company named Paleomoove Laboratory who completely documented the process, should the Diplodocus specimen be further studied at some point. Standing over 20 feet tall and around 42 feet long, it was recently on display in terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport in London, but can be easily reconfigured if the ceilings in the winning bidder’s home aren’t quite as soaring or accommodating. (Or if someday science suddenly realises the bones fit together in a totally different way.)

The skeleton is estimated to sell for around $1.5 million to $1.8 million when it hits the auction block on June 13 at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel. It’s not as flashy as a T. rex, triceratops, or other more recognisable dinosaurs, but Skinny is considered to be one of the most complete and best-preserved sauropods in the entire world.

Skin mummified to its bones and a 70 per cent complete skull make this one of the best preserved sauropod skeletons in the world. Photo: Aguttes

In addition to its 90 percent complete skeleton, the Diplodocus’ skull is almost 70 percent complete, which is quite rare for dinosaurs of this size. According to palaeontologist Eric Mickeler, roughly three-quarters of the sauropods on display around the world feature replica skulls made from plaster or resin. Skinny also comes with large amounts of actual skin that has been mummified to its bones, giving an even rarer look at these creatures.

Given its remarkable condition, there’s a good chance Skinny could spark a bidding war amongst museums who are not only interested in studying the specimen, but also putting it on display to draw visitors. For 112 years, Dippy the Diplodocus was one of the star attractions at the Natural History Museum in London (it’s since been replaced with the skeleton of a blue whale) but was actually a high-quality replica. Skinny is the real deal, and could potentially be an even bigger attraction.

Featured image: Aguttes