Forever enemies but together forever. This is not about any feel-good movie for the holidays but about two dinosaurs, a triceratops-like animal and a tryannosaurid, which fought to death about 67 million years ago. The two creatures that were discovered in Montana in 2006 apparently fought with each other and died and were fossilized next to each other, forever sealed their bond. Fondly known as the "Dueling Dinosaurs," they will be auctioned in New York on Tuesday with early estimates going as high as $9 million.
The Bonhams auction house owns the 17-meter long fossils of the plant- and meat-eating dinosaurs.
"The fully articulated skeletons show the well-matched foes were locked in mortal combat, each inflicting fatal wounds on the other. Nanotyrannus teeth are present in the skull of the Chasmosaurine, while the Nanotyrannus' skull and chest appear to have been crushed laterally, as though kicked. The remarkable state of the skeletons indicates the pair was buried very shortly after the fatal struggle," shared Bonhams in a press statement.
"Their superb preservation in fine-grain, loosely consolidated sandstone allowed them to remain intact despite the weight of the sediment that buried them. The specimens were removed in large, plaster-jacketed sections of earth, safeguarding the spatial relationships in which the bones were found. Both dinosaurs also exhibit extremely rare preserved soft (skin) tissue, offering spectacular possibilities for cellular research," it added.
The fossils were discovered by Clayton Phipps, a rancher who has been searching for fossils in Montana for over a decade.
According to a report, Phipps first got a hint of the two dinosaurs when he and his colleagues saw an eroding pelvic bone on a ranch in Hell Creek. The group traced the bones and were surprised to find the duo of a Nanotyrannus and .Ceraptopsid.
"My hope was that we had half of one dinosaur. When we found that guy, I threw my hat into the air," Phipps shared the story of their discovery.
The dinosaurs may help paleontologists determine if Nanotyrannus is a genus or are just a young Tyrannosaurus Rex. However, the auction house is hoping that a philantropist will buy the fossils and later donate it to a museum or public institution.
According to reports, Phipps tried to offer the dinosaur fossils to museums in the United States but found no taker. The Smitsonian was allegedly asked for $15 million but the institution had no interest of paying that much for the specimens.
"When Bonhams contacted me and asked if I would like to put them in the sale, I was torn, because we have no control over what happens to them at this point. When we first found them I tried to figure out a way to keep them local, but the money wasn't there to study them. The money wasn't there to curate them. It's my sincere hope that a museum will end up with them with the financial means to study them and do all the scientific work," Phipps said.