200-Pound T-Rex Skull Unearthed in South Dakota to Be Auctioned in New York

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

A massive T-Rex skull, weighing 200 pounds and previously unearthed in Harding County, South Dakota, is expected to fetch millions at auction in New York next month. Sotheby’s Auction House expects the prehistoric skull to sell for $15 million or more.

According to the AP, the T-Rex skull boasts the name Maximus, an appropriate monicker for such a large hunk of bone. The skull is scheduled to go up for auction by its anonymous owner on Friday, December 9th.

Aside from his size, Maximus is interesting for a handful of reasons. Per Sotheby’s head of science and popular culture, Cassandra Hatton, the T-Rex skull is just one of several Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils that have been unearthed in Harding County, SD. Hatton called this particular region of SD “the world capital for T. Rexes.”

A T-Rex Skull for a Trophy

Sadly, most of Maximus’s other fossilized parts are missing. Experts attribute the loss to millions upon millions of years of erosion. Still, the massive skull was a significant find. The dinosaur remnant is also highly desirable for another reason. Hatton pointed out, “more people can fit a skull in their home than people who could fit a full dinosaur.”

She added, “It’s the ultimate trophy.”

The T-Rex skull is as impressive in height as it is in weight. Altogether, the fossil measures 6.5 feet tall and still has many of its external skull bones and teeth.

Even more intriguing, though, the fossil also boasts two large puncture holes. Hatton stated that experts believe the holes came during a battle with another T-Rex some 76 million years ago.

“We don’t know that this is what caused the death of this animal,” Haton admitted. However, she did say,”we can tell that it did have a major battle during its lifetime.”

How One Fearsome Dinosaur Made Way for the Tyrannosaurus-Rex’s Longheld Reign:

Before the T-Rex walked the earth as the prehistoric era’s largest and fiercest predator (and later left its skull to be found in South Dakota) there was the Ulughbegasaurus. Though not nearly as famous as the 9-ton, 40-foot monster T-Rex, the Ulugh fell into a predatory category all its own. University of Calgary associate paleontology professor Darla Zelenitsky said of the newfound creatures last year, “They probably kept the Tyrannosaurus down, they were obviously better apex predators.”

They would have to be, one would think. Paleontologists believe the Ulugh, which walked the earth a long 90 million years ago, weighed in at a little more than a ton, significantly less massive than a T-Rex, and measured a more modest 30 feet or less. So how exactly did these significantly smaller beasts outsize the T-Rex?

As stated, paleontologists believe the Ulughbegasaurus was probably a better hunter than the T-Rex ever was. So, while it was alive, the fearsome, skillful reptiles actually preyed upon T-Rexes, their inferiority to the Ulugh only allowing them to grow to a fraction of the size we typically imagine them to have been.

Zelenitsky said of the Ulugh’s disappearance, “[it] likely allowed tyrannosaur species to become the apex predators of Asia and North America some 80 to 90 million years ago, who persisted in large forms like Albertosaurus, Gorgosaurus, and T-Rex.”