His name is “Hector”, he is over 100 million years old and his fossils have sold for over $12 million at auction at Christie’s.
Hector is the most complete skeleton of Deinonychus antirrhopus ever found, according to Christie’s. The specimen, excavated in Montana in 2013, dates back to the early Cretaceous: 115 to 108 million years ago. It is in a “remarkable state of preservation,” the auction house said of the specimen, which consists of 126 original fossils on a custom-built frame.
The lot was expected to fetch between $4 million and $6 million, according to Christie’s.
Instead, it sold for $12.4 million on Wednesday.
The 9-foot-long Deinonychus, which roamed western North America, was named for its distinctive, deadly claw on each foot, the auction house says. Deinonychus means “terrible claw” in ancient Greek.
“Sickle-shaped and held above the ground when not in use to retain its deadly edge, this claw was used to rip open its prey,” Christie’s said.
The deadly greenhouse might be familiar to fans of the iconic “Jurassic Park” film series, in which conniving velociraptors kill park guests and battle a Tyrannosaurus rex. However, in reality, Velociraptor was a small, turkey-sized dinosaur found primarily in Mongolia. The filmmakers lifted his name, but took on most of the attributes of the larger Deinonychus, according to Christie’s.
Hector, only the third complete Deinonychus skeleton ever discovered, has been privately owned since its excavation. The other two complete Deinonychus skeletons belong to museums: one is on display at the American Museum of Natural History.
Dinosaur fossils, especially for “celebrity” species like those featured in “Jurassic Park,” have fetched impressive sums at auction over the past few decades. In 2020, a T.rex skeleton sold for a record $31.8 million, and in 2021, the world’s largest Triceratops skeleton sold for $7.7 million.