The 150 million-year-old, largely-intact skeleton of a still-unknown species of dinosaur went to auction today in Paris and sold for more than two million dollars - and if paleontologists’ hunches prove true, the mystery winning bidder may get a chance to bestow a name on a previously undiscovered species.
The remains of the prehistoric predator – which is 30 feet long and 9 feet high - were discovered at Morrison Formation site in Wyoming in 2013.
“The skeleton is 70% complete,” paleontologist Eric Mickeler told ABC News while observing the skeleton. “This is remarkable to have such a large amount of original fossilized bones."
Mickeler, the valuation expert for the French auction house Aguttes, said experts have never documented a species quite like this one.
“Scientists first thought it was an allosaurus, but after an in-depth examination, the skeleton presented major anatomical differences from known allosaurs - notably more teeth and distinctive bones."
Whatever it proves to be, Mickeler said the the dinosaur lived a long life.
“Looking at them, we can tell this carnivorous dinosaur died at an old age.”
Still, Mickeler said that additional research will be required to confirm that the painstakingly reproduced skeleton is truly a fresh discovery.
The global paleontological organization the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) in Bethesda, Maryland, which represents more than 2,200 international paleontologists, wrote a letter to auctioneers at Aguttes, seeking the cancellation of today's auction and citing concerns about valuable fossils falling into private hands rather than public repositories.
Mickeler said that few museums don’t have the money to purchase such skeleton.
“I really hope the new owner will put it on display," he said.
"Based on my experience, I believe it will end up in a museum. When private enterprises or sponsors buy a dinosaur’s skeleton, they usually donate it or make a permanent loan to public institutions”.
The new owner, who refused to be named publicly, purchased the dinosaur’s skeleton for the U.S. equivalent of $2,360,389.
Part of the sale profit will go to two charities fighting for the preservation of endangered species: Sea Shepherd and Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre.