New York: A well-preserved fossil of two dinosaurs locked in a prehistoric death match is expected to fetch between USD 7 to USD 9 million when it goes under the hammer later this year.
The two virtually complete dinosaur skeletons, a carnivore and a herbivore, were found fossilised together in Hell Creek, Montana in 2006.
Dubbed the "Dueling Dinos," the specimens are preserved in a sensational death match between predator and prey.
Bonhams will auction the fossil on November 19, with an estimate of USD 7,000,000 to USD 9,000,000, in New York.
The dinosaurs have been identified as a Nanotyrannus lancensis, a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a new species of Chasmosaurine Ceratopsian (similar to a Triceratops), Bonhams said in a statement.
Both would have stood about eight feet high and measured between 25 and 35 feet long. The fully articulated skeletons show the well-matched foes were locked in mortal combat, each inflicting fatal wounds on the other.
Nanotyrannus teeth are present in the skull of the Chasmosaurine, while the Nanotyrannus` skull and chest appear to have been crushed laterally, as though kicked. The state of the skeletons indicates the pair was buried very shortly after the fatal struggle.
Their preservation in fine-grain, loosely consolidated sandstone allowed them to remain intact despite the weight of the sediment that buried them.
The specimens were removed in large, plaster-jacketed sections of earth, safeguarding the spatial relationships in which the bones were found.
Both dinosaurs also exhibit extremely rare preserved soft (skin) tissue, offering possibilities for cellular research.
Moreover, the "Dueling Dinos" may hold the key to answering one of the most puzzling questions for paleontologists today.
Currently, researchers are divided over whether Nanotyrannus` are their own genus, or whether they are simply juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rexes.
The Nanotyrannus involved in the "Dueling Dinos" is only the second example ever found, and by far the most complete, offering the best hope to date of answering this pressing scientific question.
"Offering the `Dueling Dinos` at Bonhams in November is the highlight of my career. They are one of the most significant dinosaur discoveries ever in North America," said Thomas E Lindgren, Co-Consulting Director of the Natural History Department at Bonhams.