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World’s First Triceratops Sold at Auction Will Be Unveiled in Boston

September 22, 2008

The Museum of Science, Boston today announced that it will unveil an extremely rare dinosaur fossil for the first time to the public this fall – a skeleton of Triceratops horridus that was auctioned at Christie’s in Paris earlier this spring. According to Christie’s, the fossilized Triceratops skeleton is mostly complete, making it one of the world’s rarest paleontological finds. There are currently only three other largely complete Triceratops fossils on public display in the world. To present the fossil, the Museum has developed a new exhibit, Colossal Fossil: Triceratops Cliff, which will open November 15, 2008. Named after the donor’s grandfather, Triceratops Cliff is the fossilized remains of a real Triceratops who lived and died over 65 million years ago. The exhibit will allow visitors to imagine Cliff’s life and death in the age of the dinosaurs, as they examine evidence found in this extraordinary fossil, including large scars on its massive, three-horned skull.

The fossil made international headlines in April 2008 when it became the world’s first Triceratops to go on public auction. The only other dinosaur ever to be auctioned is Sue, a Tyrannosaurus rex that sold in 1998. The highly coveted Triceratops fossil was purchased for $942,797 by an anonymous American collector. Wishing to have the fossil displayed for the education and enjoyment of the public, the collector generously offered the fossil on long-term loan to the Museum of Science.

“The Museum is honored to be the new home for Triceratops Cliff, where it will be available to students, researchers, and the general public for the first time,” said Paul Fontaine, Museum vice president of education. “We are grateful to the donor, who was committed to sharing this amazing discovery with as many people as possible. The Museum looks forward to opening the new exhibit in November, which we hope will inspire future paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts of all ages.”

Triceratops Cliff was discovered in the Hell Creek Formation of the Dakotas in 2004. This is an area comprised of sedimentary rocks that formed during the Cretaceous period, which ended about 65 million years ago. The “colossal fossil” measures approximately 25 feet long and weighs about two tons. The specimen bears two large gashes in the frill surrounding its head, suggesting a possible battle with a Tyrannosaurus rex or another triceratops.

In Colossal Fossil, visitors will learn about the Hell Creek Formation and discover why the area is so rich with fossils. Visitors will explore other fossils from the Cretaceous period, such as fish and turtles, learning about flora and fauna that existed in Cliff’s lifetime. Virtual exhibit interactives will allow visitors to zoom in for a closer look at Cliff–right down to the bone, and compare a model to the real fossil.

Colossal Fossil: Triceratops Cliff will open Saturday, November 15, 2008. The exhibit is ongoing and included with regular Exhibit Halls admission: $19 for adults, $17 for seniors (60+), and $16 for children (3-11). For more information, the public can call 617/723-2500, (TTY) 617/589-0417, or visit www.mos.org.

About the Museum of Science:

One of the world’s largest science centers, the Museum of Science takes a hands-on approach to science and technology, attracting approximately 1.5 million visitors annually with its vibrant programs and over 700 interactive exhibits. Highlights include the Thomson Theater of Electricity, home of the world’s largest air-insulated Van de Graaff generator; the Charles Hayden Planetarium; the Mugar Omni Theater, New England’s only 180-degree IMAX(R) domed screen theater; and The Gordon Current Science & Technology Center (GCS&T), which offers breaking news stories to the public with interpretation by Museum staff. In 2004, the Museum launched the National Center for Technological Literacy(R) (NCTL(R))–helping facilitate a nationwide expansion of technology literacy by working with regional schools, offering educational products and programs for pre-K-12 students and teachers, creating curricula, and supporting an online resource center. For more information, visit www.mos.org.




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