T-Rex skeleton on display in Zurich ahead of auction

T-Rex skeleton on display in Zurich ahead of auction


Yolanda Schicker-Siber delicately secures a long claw with a thin wire, finalizing the reconstruction of the skeleton of a tyrannosaur rex which will be auctioned next month in Switzerland. 

A giant puzzle that the curator of the Aathal Dinosaur Museum in Zurich painstakingly pieced together over two days with other experts. The bones of the T-Rex, an animal that lived 67 million years ago, traveled to Zurich from Arizona, USA, in nine giant crates.

Called Trinity, the approximately 3.9 meter tall and 11.6 meter long skeleton is laid on a red carpet, under crystal chandeliers, in the middle of a concert hall in Zurich, where it will be displayed before its sale April 18.

According to the auction house Koller, it is estimated between six and eight million Swiss francs (similar amounts in euros). This is a “fairly low” estimate, warned the natural history expert of the Koller house, Christian Link, while we are witnessing a real craze among buyers for this type of relic.

Trinity is actually an assemblage of bones from three different T-Rex found between 2008 and 2013 in formations in Montana and Wyoming, in the northwestern United States, according to the auction catalog.

It was on these sites that two other important T-Rex skeletons were discovered and then auctioned: in 2000, Stan sold for $31.8 million, shredding the previous record set by Sue, sold in 1997 for $8.4 million.

Last year, auction house Christie's had to withdraw a few days from sale in Hong Kong another T-Rex skeleton – also from Montana – because of doubts about the authenticity of parts of the fossil ?

Very, very old

Reconstituting Trinity was not an easy task, assured Ms. Schicker-Siber to AFP. “The bones are very, very old. They are 67 million years old. They are therefore fragile, they have cracks”, she explains.

Aart Walen, who has 30 years of experience assembling dinosaur skeletons, agrees. “We haven't broken anything yet,” he says proudly, as he and his colleagues work on two large seat bones, located near the pelvic region, where the eggs come out.

< p>A parakeet perched on his shoulder, Mr. Walen fills in the cracks in the bones, using what looks like dental tools and modeling clay. It was important that the repairs were visible, he says, pointing to the dark areas where the cracks were.

“You have to see where the repairs were made. There are fake stories floating around. We don't want that,” he also claims.

It also shows that the sound is different depending on whether it hits the bone or the plastic pieces that completed the skeleton .

Room for a T-Rex

Slightly more than half of the skeletal bone material comes from the three tyrannosaur specimens, this which is higher than the 50% rate necessary for experts to consider such a skeleton to be of high quality.

The Koller house wanted to be transparent about the origin of the bones. “Hence the name Trinity. We make no secret that this specimen comes from three different dig sites,” says Mr. Link.

The seller is an “individual” who wishes to remain anonymous.

The Sales of dinosaur skeletons regularly enliven auction evenings, even if it means frustrating paleontologists, who see there as less chance of exhibiting them in museums.

According to Mr. Link, 95% of T- Known Rexes are currently in museums, however, and any private collector buying Trinity can, if they wish, loan it to museums. He would also personally like a Swiss museum to buy it.

The Swiss Dinosaur Museum Aathal, which Mrs. Schicker-Siber runs with her father near Zurich, unfortunately does not have the means to acquire Trinity. “But if someone buys it and doesn't know where to put it, we have a museum — with enough room — for a T-Rex,” she slips, however.