Skeleton of a dinosaur that inspired the ‘raptor’ in Jurassic Park sells for $12.4 MILLION


A skeleton of a fearsome dinosaur that was depicted in a terrifying scene in Jurassic Park has sold for a whopping $12.4 million at auction.

Standing at 4ft-tall and 10ft-long, the 110 million-year-old skeleton belongs to apex predator Deinonychus antirrhopus. 

Deinonychus became one of the world’s most recognisable dinosaurs, after the release of the 1993 blockbuster ‘Jurassic Park’, in which it stalked the children through a kitchen.

But the creature’s true name was not considered dramatic enough by the writer of the book, on which the film was based.

Instead, author Michael Crichton chose to call it a velociraptor which was in fact a much smaller relative of Deinonychus.

Auctioneers Christie’s sold ‘Hector’, the world’s only privately owned Deinonychus fossil, at a prestigious auction in New York.

Standing at 4ft-tall and 10ft-long, the 110 million-year-old skeleton belongs to apex predator Deinonychus antirrhopus

The Deinonychus – meaning 'terrible claw' – was unearthed in Wolf Canyon, Montana, US between 2012 and 2014, where it had lain almost perfectly preserved for around 110 million years since the early Cretaceous period.

The Deinonychus – meaning ‘terrible claw’ – was unearthed in Wolf Canyon, Montana, US between 2012 and 2014, where it had lain almost perfectly preserved for around 110 million years since the early Cretaceous period.

Deinonychus became one of the world’s most recognisable dinosaurs, after the release of the 1993 blockbuster 'Jurassic Park', in which it stalked the children through a kitchen.

Deinonychus became one of the world’s most recognisable dinosaurs, after the release of the 1993 blockbuster ‘Jurassic Park’, in which it stalked the children through a kitchen.

What we know about Deinonychus

Deinonychus was a small carnivorous theropod that lived during the Early Cretaceous period, 120-110 million years ago.

Around 10ft in length and weighing 165lbs, it walked on two legs and had backward-curving teeth for eating vertebrates and other plant-eating dinosaurs.

Deinonychus could hold onto its prey with fearsome front claws. 

One huge claw on each foot swivelled – a kick would rip prey apart. When not in use the claw was held out of the way to keep it sharp. 

Source: Natural History Museum 

Consisting of 126 fossilised bones, Hector is the largest and most complete specimen of its kind ever discovered – although part of its skeleton and most of its skull are reconstructed, the auction house said.

It sparked a fierce bidding war and dwarfed valuer’s expectations, selling for $12.4 million (£10.2 million) – more than double the auction house’s estimated high of $6 million.

The exceptionally rare artefact attracted the attention of collectors from across the globe, as the vast majority of dinosaur fossils belong to museums. 

It was purchased by an anonymous buyer.

The trend of high-priced fossil sales has irked some paleontologists, who fear that specimens could become lost to science if they are bought by private individuals rather than public institutions. 

Back in 2020, for example, a 40ft T-Rex skeleton known as ‘Stan’ smashed the world record for sale of a dinosaur by four times, selling at Christie’s for $31 million to an unidentified bidder.

However, commercial paleontologists argue that their work is critical to science too, and that they need to be paid so they can keep doing it. 

Consisting of 126 fossilised bones, Hector is the largest and most complete of its kind ever discovered.

Consisting of 126 fossilised bones, Hector is the largest and most complete of its kind ever discovered.

The skeleton was found by commercial paleontologist Jared Hudson and acquired by an anonymous buyer.

The skeleton was found by commercial paleontologist Jared Hudson and acquired by an anonymous buyer.

The Deinonychus – meaning ‘terrible claw’ – was unearthed in Wolf Canyon, Montana, US between 2012 and 2014, where it had lain almost perfectly preserved for around 110 million years since the early Cretaceous period.

The specimen was excavated by Jack and Roberta Owen, self-taught paleontologists, according to Jared Hudson, a commercial paleontologist who bought and prepared the specimen. 

Hector has only been publicity exhibited once before at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.

James Hyslop, specialist at Christie’s, said: ‘It was an absolute privilege to showcase a rare dinosaur species, especially one revered both globally and culturally.

‘This iconic predator remains truly thrilling to a worldwide audience and is one of the most famous dinosaurs.

‘With a handful of recorded specimens found and only two skeletons in museum collections, the Raptor is the single most complete Deinonychus known to exist, and the only privately owned specimen.’

The agile and speedy Deinonychus stalked the earth between 115 and 108 million years ago – 50 million years before the T-rex.

The dinosaur belonged to a group of species called therapods, carnivorous creatures which walked on their hind legs. 

The agile and speedy Deinonychus stalked the earth between 115 and 108 million years ago – 50 million years before the T-rex.

The agile and speedy Deinonychus stalked the earth between 115 and 108 million years ago – 50 million years before the T-rex.

They hunted in packs and used their huge hooked claws to spear down and disembowel prey with a powerful kick.

The Deinonychus’ discovery in 1964 triggered a shift in scientific understanding of dinosaurs which were previously believed to be cold blooded and lizard-like creatures.

Instead, it is now thought that they were warm blooded animals linked to the early evolution of birds.

HOW THE DINOSAURS WENT EXTINCT AROUND 66 MILLION YEARS AGO

Dinosaurs ruled and dominated Earth around 66 million years ago, before they suddenly went extinct. 

The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event is the name given to this mass extinction.

It was believed for many years that the changing climate destroyed the food chain of the huge reptiles. 

In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a layer of iridium.

This is an element that is rare on Earth but is found  in vast quantities in space.  

When this was dated, it coincided precisely with when the dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record. 

A decade later, scientists uncovered the massive Chicxulub Crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which dates to the period in question. 

Scientific consensus now says that these two factors are linked and they were both probably caused by an enormous asteroid crashing to Earth.

With the projected size and impact velocity, the collision would have caused an enormous shock-wave and likely triggered seismic activity. 

The fallout would have created plumes of ash that likely covered all of the planet and made it impossible for dinosaurs to survive. 

Other animals and plant species had a shorter time-span between generations which allowed them to survive.

There are several other theories as to what caused the demise of the famous animals. 

One early theory was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs and another proposes that toxic angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them off.  

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