A group of investors from South Dakota paid more than $90,000 for the fossilized remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex at an auction in May 2004 in California. The price tag was considerably less than expected, however. Auction officials hoped the bones would fetch between $700,000 and $900,000.
The partial skeleton of the T. rex was excavated in Wyoming in 1996 by paleontologist Japheth Boyce. The bones made up about 20% of the complete dinosaur. Boyce named the bundle of bones Barnum, in honor of Barnum Brown, who in 1900 became the first person to uncover T. rex fossils. In fact, Boyce thinks the fossils from Barnum and those excavated by Brown are from the same dinosaur. Brown’s fossils are housed in the British Museum of Natural History.
"They have the same geological thumbprints," Boyce said. "Many of the bones found in Barnum appear to match what is missing from the British specimen."
Barnum was the second T. rex to be sold at auction. In 1997, a T. rex named Sue was sold for more than $8 million. About 90% of Sue’s original bones were intact, however. Barnum and Sue are among the 30 T. rex remains that have been unearthed.