Dinosaur Fossil Discovered in Colorado Could Sell for an Outrageous Amount

by Lauren Boisvert

A “small” iguanodon fossil found in Colorado in 2019 is going to auction in Paris and the intact skeleton could possibly sell for 500,000 euros, which converts to 503,448.50 dollars. The whole thing measures just 4 feet tall and 10 feet long, much smaller than the newly discovered “Elemgasem nubilus.”

“It’s a dinosaur for a living room,” said Alexandre Giquello, auctioneer for the French auction house Binoche et Giquello. The fossilized skeleton is named Zephyr. The iguanodon lived from the Jurassic period to the early Cretaceous period, about 150 million years ago. Zephyr was found during road-building in the Utah-Colorado area in 2019, and was restored by an Italian team of paleontologists. The skeleton goes up for auction on October 20.

What Makes the Iguanodon So Interesting?

The iguanodon is a neat little dinosaur that lived in the early Cretaceous period. The discovery of a collection of teeth in 1822 Sussex led to the subsequent discovery of the herbivorous reptile. Dr. Gideon Algernon Mantell and his wife Mary Ann Mantell are on record as the first to discover evidence of the iguanodon. Apparently, Mary was joining her husband on a trip when she spotted something glittering on the side of the road. She went to investigate and discovered a collection of tooth fossils stuck in several rocks.

Her husband contacted experts, trying to identify what animal the teeth belonged to. Georges Cuvier, often called the father of paleontology according to the Natural History Museum in London, posited that the teeth could have belonged to a fish, something like the tetraodon or the diodon. But, Cuvier noted, that the inside of the teeth was different. He speculated that the teeth could have possibly come from something new–like an herbivorous reptile, for instance.

Various finds produced more teeth and isolated bone fossils, but the real discovery came in 1834. Then, quarry workers found a slab in a limestone quarry in Kent. Workers accidentally blew it apart with explosives in the quarry, but there was enough left in the rock for quarry workers to uncover it. They found rib fragments, vertebrae, limb bones, parts of the pelvis, and teeth.

Another Dinosaur Fossil Was Sold in Paris Last Year, Causing Quite a Stir Among Scientists

Auction house Binoche et Giquello is no stranger to fossilized dinosaur skeletons, though. In 2021 the auction house successfully sold the largest triceratops skeleton in the world, nicknamed “Big John.” The skeleton sold for a massive $7.7 million and caused a bit of a stir in the science, auction, paleontology, and museum communities.

Big John was made up of a 60 percent complete skeleton and 70 percent of its skull. Additionally, Big John had the biggest skull on record for a triceratops. But, according to North Dakota museum curator Denver Fowler and gallery owner Iacopo Briano, being the biggest doesn’t really mean anything, scientifically speaking.

Still, there’s a strange sort of fossil trade in the United States of fossils found on private land, which the landowner owns and can sell as they see fit. Paleontologists worry that this could turn fossils into “luxury items,” according to a report from National Geographic last November.

“We want to learn the most we can from [fossils],” said paleontologist Jessica Theodor, “and the way to do that is to have them in museums where everyone can look at them and everyone can study them.”