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Dinosaur Skeleton Sold For $2.3 Million At Paris Auction May Belong To New Theropod Species

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The remains of the unknown theropod were found by an unnamed group of paleontologists in 2013. What are the features that suggest the skeleton belonged to a new species of dinosaur?  ( Aguttes | Facebook )

A largely-intact skeleton of an unknown dinosaur species has been sold for $2.3 million at an auction in Paris.

Unnamed French Buyer Wants Skeleton Displayed In A Museum

On Monday, an unnamed French collector outbid other bidders, which included parties from Japan and Sweden. Auctioneer Claude Aguttes, of the auction house Aguttes, said that the buyer wants the skeleton to be displayed in a French museum.

"Everyone will be able to see it, it will soon be lent to a museum, it will be studied by scientists, everything is perfect," Aguttes said.

Potential New Species Of Dinosaur

The 150-million-year-old remains of the unknown therapod, which is 70 percent complete and measures 30 feet long and 9 feet high, were found by an unnamed group of paleontologists at Morrison Formation site in Wyoming in 2013.

The species is thought to be some type of Allosaurus and lived during the Jurassic period. It means, it emerged before the Tyrannosaurs, which did not appear until the Cretaceous.

The dinosaur has key physical features that set it apart from other predatory species such as the Allosaurus fragilis, which means it could be a new species.

"The palaeontologists who were on the digging site really thought it was an Allosaurus," said dinosaur expert Eric Mickeler, who oversaw the auction for Aguttes.

"The extraordinary thing was that in the process of getting it out [of the ground] the scientists noticed there were lots of characteristics, like the teeth and skull for example, that didn't correspond with a classic Allosaurus."

What's In A Name?

If the skeleton is confirmed to be a new species, Mickeler said that the mystery buyer may have a say in choosing the scientific name for it.

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, however, said that Mickeler's claim that the new owner would be able to name the species is false. The organization consisting of 2,200 members said that naming new species follows the strict rules of the International Code of Nomenclature.

SVP said that naming priority is given to the first validly published name and not to the owner of the specimen.

The group also earlier attempted to stop the sale of the skeleton, saying that private ownership may limit scientific study of the specimen regardless if the skeleton is made available to researchers.

"Fossil specimens that are sold into private hands are lost to science," reads the group's letter to Aguttes. "Even if made accessible to scientists, information contained within privately owned specimens cannot be included in the scientific literature.

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