A gorgosaurus skeleton that belonged to a tyrannosaurus rex relative and lived approximately 77 million years ago was auctioned off for more than $6 million.
In its natural history auction on Thursday (28 July), Sotheby's reported that the ancient skeleton, which was found in the US state of Montana in 2018, sold for little under $6.07 million, as per Aljazeera.
According to Sotheby's, there are only 20 known gorgosaurus specimens, and this one is the only one known to be for sale to the general public. The majority of the other specimens were discovered in Canada, where export restrictions strictly forbid private sales.
The auction house did not disclose any information of the buyer of the skeleton, which measures nearly 3m (10 feet) tall and just under 6.7m (22 feet) long.
The gorgosaurus, whose name translates to "dreadful lizard," existed some 77 million years ago in what is now western North America, said Sotheby's.
The auction firm stated in a social media post earlier this month that "this discovery was particularly exceptional due to the rarity of Gorgosaurus material south of the Canadian border, this being one of just few recovered in the United States."
In a statement made in early July, Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby's global head of science and popular culture, added, "In my career, I have had the privilege of handling and selling many exceptional and unique objects, but few have the capacity to inspire wonder and capture imaginations quite like this unbelievable gorgosaurus skeleton.
However, the auction has angered scientists, who say that allowing the sale of dinosaur specimens to private buyers may hinder their ability to study the animals.
"There are not very many specimens of this particular dinosaur. All the others are housed in museums. And one more being sold, you might say, 'Oh well it's only one.' But if there is only a few, that's a lot of information that we lose," said Jessica Theodor, president of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology.
"You have no guarantee that whoever buys it is going to allow access to scientists," she told Al Jazeera.
"I'm totally disgusted, distressed and disappointed because of the far-reaching damage the loss of these specimens will have for science," Dr Thomas Carr, a vertebrate palaeontologist who studies tyrannosauroids, told the New York Times. "This is a disaster."