Wyoming Dinosaur Skeleton Sells At Auction For $652,000 To Anonymous Buyer

By Ben Wolford on November 27, 2013 3:57 PM EST

Diplodocus
A 56-foot-long dinosaur skeleton sold at a British auction for $652,000. (Photo: Photo: Shutterstock)

An anonymous buyer has purchased the near-complete skeleton fossil of a 56-foot-long dinosaur at an auction in England. According to the BBC, whoever bought the diplodocus, for $652,000, plans to put it on public display. But the auction house would say little else.

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"Misty," as the dinosaur remains are known, was discovered in Wyoming in 2009 by a pair of teenage brothers and is one of six relatively complete diplodocus fossils in the world. The diplodocus, a massive herbivore seen here in a BBC animation, lived about 150 million years ago in what is now the western United States. Summers Place Auctions sold Misty on Wednesday.

"I can't tell you who bought it, but it is going on public display," Rupert van der Werff, of the auction house, told the BBC. Previously, auctioneer James Rylands said museums in Asia and even commercial establishments are getting into the dinosaur market. "It's more likely to be bought by a museum — most of the museums, including the Natural History Museum [in London], only have replicas. And there's a fast developing museum market in Asia and the Middle East. The other big thing is upmarket shopping malls or hotels, especially in the U.S., because of their high ceilings and atriums. Within the context of a shopping mall you can make a real wow statement."

Dinosaurs lately have been objects of interest not just to museums but to private concerns, as well. Last week, two dinosaurs, dubbed the "dueling dinosaurs" because they appear to be tangled in combat, failed to sell at auction in New York. The pair were excavated by a private specimen-hunting company and placed on sale for $7 million to $9 million. The New York Times reported that museum curators were miffed by the private discovery and sale process, which can be prohibitively expensive for them to get in the game.

The highest bid, however, was $5.5 million, which didn't meet the reserve price set for the dueling dinos. "I've had museums mention that they had difficulty coming up with the funds this quickly. But should the lot not sell, which of course occurred, they want us to be in negotiations immediately," the auction house told Reuters. Museums, though, have spent top dollar before. In 1997, The Field Museum in Chicago paid the highest price ever for a dinosaur: $8.3 million for a Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue.

Misty couldn't command such a fee. But fossil and the story of her discovery is interesting in its own way. A German archaeologist, Raimund Albersdoerfer, brought his sons with him to help on a dig in Wyoming. According to the BBC, the kids weren't helping so much as bugging their old man to go find their own bones. Finally he let them go. Later, the boys came running back saying they found a fossil too big to carry.

Above photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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