Here’s something you do not hear every day: a dinosaur fossil is going up for auction in France this October! The skeleton is currently being held at the Giquello & Associés auction house in Paris, France. This is Alexandre Giquello’s sixth dinosaur fossil auction, and he says this new fossil “is a dinosaur for a living room.” The skeleton is roughly three feet high and is almost ten feet long; it is about the same size as a Bengal tiger.
The fossil dates back to the upper Jurassic period, an estimated 150 million years ago, and has been given the name “Zephyr.” The name was derived from “Zephyros,” the Greek God of “the west wind.” The name is an homage to the fossil’s location of death in Skull Creek. It just so happened that a team of construction workers were digging in Skull Creek when they struck a series of bones in 2019. Further inspection led to the discovery of Zephyr in 2019.
Zephyr is of the genus “iguanodon.” The name was invented by an English geologist named Gideon Mantell, who discovered an iguanodon in a quarry at Whiteman’s Green in Sussex, England in 1825. However, there is much debate over who found the first iguanodon teeth: Gideon Mantell or his wife, Mary Ann. Mantell invented the name “iguana-saurus,” as the teeth appeared similar to those of an iguana, and it was not until later that a friend convinced Mantell to change the name to “Iguanodon.
Iguanodons are equipped with huge thumb spikes, capable of fending off predators, and fifth fingers, used for gathering food. They are herbivores, which means their diets consist solely of plants and trees. Scientists also claim that Iguanodons had the ability to alternate between bipedalism and quadrupedalism—two legs and four legs, much like a monkey. However, research shows that as the Iguanodon evolved into a larger, heavier species, it began focusing on quadruped movement. The species also had toothless beaks and prehensile tongues, so they could grab tree leaves like giraffes.
Believe it or not, Iguanodons have made their way into popular culture. The character “Aldar” in Disney’s 2000 movie, Dinosaur, is an Iguanodon, as well as the characters Neera, Kron, and Bruton. The Iguanodon is also one of the three species of dinosaur that inspired Godzilla, along with the Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus. You can also see glimpses of Iguanodons in the cartoon movie series A Land Before Time. However, to much disappointment, the Iguanodon did not make the cut for the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World franchise.
Zephyr, the Skull Creek Iguanodon, will be up for auction on Oct. 20 and has an estimated worth of $495,000. Who will pay half a million dollars to have a full dinosaur skeleton on display in his/her living room come Oct. 21? Only time will tell.