Dinosaur skeleton sold for £400,000
A giant skeleton of a dinosaur which last roamed Earth more than 150 million years ago has fetched £400,000 at auction.
The 55ft (17m) specimen of the long-necked Diplodocus longus went under the hammer at Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst, West Sussex.
The sale of the female skeleton, 19ft (6m) tall and nicknamed "Misty", was the first UK auction of a large dinosaur skeleton, according to experts.
It was found almost completely intact in 2009 by the sons of renowned palaeontologist Raimund Albersdoerfer near a quarry in Wyoming in the United States.
The skeleton was bought by an undisclosed institution and it will go on public display, auction officials said.
Rupert van der Werff, of Summers Place Auctions, said it is a "truly tremendous object".
He said: "I'm absolutely thrilled. It has been an awful lot of work and a very exciting project, and to finally get to this final conclusion, we are delighted.
"I can't tell you who bought it but it is going on public display."
With the buyer's premium, the final figure for the sale will be more than £450,000, a spokeswoman for the auctioneers said.
Auctioneer James Rylands said: "We hope that Misty will get to go to a home where she'll be enjoyed for another 150 million years."
The discovery of the skeleton came as Albersdoerfer took part in an excavation at a privately-owned quarry when he sent his sons to dig in an area nearby "to get them off his back".
To their father's astonishment, Benjamin and Jacob returned to him at the end of the day to say they had found an enormous bone.
Nine weeks later, Albersdoerfer's team dug out "Misty", and she has been painstakingly prepared at a leading fossil laboratory in Holland before being assembled in the UK.
The skeleton, which had an estimated price of £400,000 to £600,000, was auctioned as part of Summers Place's Evolution Sale, curated by natural history expert and author Errol Fuller.
Before the sale, Mr Fuller, who has written a series of books on extinct creatures, said: "There are probably about six of these in the great museums of the world, including in Pittsburgh and Washington.
"You are talking about a very rare item indeed. Even if you were lucky enough to find one in the first place, the digging out and the preparation then involved is an enormous undertaking.
"The rock that it was embedded in would have been extremely hard to break away from the bones, and you couldn't go at it with a sledge-hammer because the bones were vulnerable to breaking."