19 April: Trinity, a T-rex skeleton made of bones from three different dinosaurs, sold for $6.1 million in a rare auction on Tuesday. The skeleton, which is 3.9 metres high and estimated to be 65 to 67 million years old, was auctioned at the Koller auction house in Zurich.
It was shipped from the United States in nine large crates. The skeleton had a hammer price of 4.8 million Swiss francs, which increased to 5.5 million with the buyer’s premium.
Trinity was offered by an anonymous US seller and was expected to fetch between five and eight million Swiss francs. A private European collector bought the skeleton.
Trinity is named after the three dinosaurs whose bones were used to create it. The bones were excavated from the Hell Creek and Lance Creek formations in Montana and Wyoming between 2008 and 2013.
These sites are famous for the discoveries of two other important T-rex skeletons that were auctioned. Sue was sold in 1997 for $8.4 million, while Stan set a world record of $31.8 million at Christie’s in 2020.
However, some experts are not happy with the sale of such specimens. Thomas Holtz, a vertebrate palaeontologist who opposes the sale of dinosaur skeletons, told AFP that Trinity was not a real specimen but an art installation.
He said it was misleading and inappropriate to combine bones from different individuals to make a single skeleton. He also said that more than half of the bone material in Trinity came from the three Tyrannosaurus specimens, which met the minimum requirement for a high-quality skeleton.
Holtz, from the University of Maryland, doubted the value of Trinity and criticised the auction of significant dinosaur skeletons and fossils, which have earned millions of dollars in recent years. He warned that such trade could harm science by putting the specimens in private hands.