Remains of 'Big John', largest known triceratops, fetch nearly $8m.

Big John - named after the owner of the land where the dinosaur's bones were found - roamed modern-day South Dakota more than 66 million years ago.

 The skeleton of a gigantic Triceratops goes under the hammer at Paris auction house (photo credit: REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER)
The skeleton of a gigantic Triceratops goes under the hammer at Paris auction house
(photo credit: REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER)

A private, anonymous collector bought the fossilized remains of 'Big John', the largest triceratops dinosaur ever discovered by paleontologists, for 6.65 million euros ($7.74 million) at a Paris auction on Thursday.

Big John - named after the owner of the land where the dinosaur's bones were found - roamed modern-day South Dakota more than 66 million years ago.

"It's being acquired by an American collector, and that individual is absolutely thrilled with the idea of being able to bring a piece like this to his personal use," said Djuan Rivers, a representative for the buyer.

The first piece of bone from the supersized skeleton - the skull alone is 2.62 meters long and two meters wide - was found in 2014.

By 2015, paleontologists had unearthed 60% of the skeleton, a rare feat, made of over 200 pieces which were painstakingly put together in Italy, to prepare for the Paris auction.

The skull showed a traumatic lesion, which researchers said was likely the work of another triceratops striking it from behind.

 The skeleton of a gigantic Triceratops goes under the hammer at Paris auction house (credit: REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER) The skeleton of a gigantic Triceratops goes under the hammer at Paris auction house (credit: REUTERS/SARAH MEYSSONNIER)

"The history behind this and the curation of it is absolutely impressive, so to be able to be a part of preserving something of this nature that was actually found in the , in South Dakota, is also something extremely special," Rivers said.

The name triceratops means "three-horned face."

The hammer price at the Drouot auction house, before commission and other costs, was 5.5 million euros. Drouot had estimated the skeleton would fetch between 1.2-1.5 million euros. It sold to an unidentified private buyer.

"It's a record for Europe," said auctioneer Alexandre Giquello, who described exponential growth in the relatively new market of dinosaur fossils. "We're creating a market."

Auction house Christie's sold a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton for $31.8 million in New York last year.