A 76 million-year-old fossilized dinosaur skeleton, the only specimen of its kind available for private ownership, will be auctioned off this month in New York City, Sotheby's announced Tuesday.
At nearly 10 feet tall and 22 feet long, the Gorgosaurus skeleton was found in the Judith River Formation near Havre, Montana, in 2018. The discovery was “exceptional” because of the rarity of Gorgosaurus material found in the United States, according to Sotheby's.
Sotheby's presale estimate for the fossil is $5 million to $8 million.
“In my career, I have had the privilege of handling and selling many exceptional and unique objects, but few have the capacity to inspire wonder and capture imaginations quite like this unbelievable Gorgosaurus skeleton,” said Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby's global head of science and popular culture.
A Gorgosaurus has never before been offered at auction, and all of the other known skeletons are in museum collections, Hatton said.
The apex carnivore, whose name translates as “fierce” or “terrifying” lizard, roamed what is now the western United States and Canada during the late Cretaceous period, about 10 million years before its relative, the Tyrannosaurus rex.
Distinctive features of the Gorgosaurus include its large head, dozens of curved, serrated teeth, and small two-fingered front limbs. A typical adult male could weigh up to 2 tons, according to Sotheby's.
“This specimen, which was a very large, mature individual at the time of death, has a particularly well-preserved skull, including a left maxilla and an assortment of cranial bones. Crucially the specimen also contains the three major bones which create the orbit, the feature which distinguishes the Gorgosaurus from the T. rex,” Sotheby's said.
The area of excavation provided for a “remarkably pristine” skeletal condition because of the slowly deposited sediments of the river.
The Gorgosaurus will go on public display for the first time on July 21 at Sotheby's York Avenue galleries in New York. Sotheby's natural history auction will highlight the skeleton on July 28.
Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY's NOW team. She loves to make pizza, photograph friends and spoil her loving cat Pearl.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gorgosaurus: Dinosaur skeleton set for auction at New York Sotheby's