Most Complete ‘Velociraptor' Skeleton Known to Exist on View in NYC Ahead of Sale

A smaller, more agile pack-hunting predator (as you know from the Jurassic movies) than the Tyrannosaurus rex, the Raptor came 50 million years earlier and was the most feared -- and smartest -- animal of its time

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You've probably seen the Jurassic movies. And if you haven't, you've heard of them.

The most complete skeleton of the inspiration for "Jurassic Park's" iconic Velociraptor is going up for sale at Christie's New York, the legendary auction house announced Friday. But first, you'll have a chance to see it in person.

The piece is called "The Raptor" and will debut as part of Christie's New York Spring Marquee Week of sales. Excavated from Wolf Canyon in Montana, it has been in private hands since. The Raptor has been exhibited only once -- in Copenhagen at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, from June 2020 to December 2021.

The Raptor is a Deinonychus, a sophisticated carnivorous species discovered in the 1960s that can walk on two legs. The term was coined by paleontologist John Ostrom in 1969 and means "terrible claw," referencing the lethal sickle claw present on each foot. 

With a handful of recorded specimens found and only two skeletons in museum collections, The Raptor being sold by Christie's is the most complete Deinonychus skeleton known to exist and the only privately owned specimen.

Yes, the Tyrannosaurus rex was a Deinonychus, but the Raptor came much earlier -- 50 million years before the Rex that would become the stuff of "Jurassic Park" -- and ruled the dinosaur kingdom. A smaller, more agile pack-hunting predator (as you know from the movies), than the Rex, the raptor was the most feared -- and smartest -- animal of its time, according to Christie's.

Raptors held that "terrible claw" off the ground when not in use to retain its sharpness and could pierce its prey with one mighty kick once it was in its long arms. Unlike most dinosaurs, the raptor’s method of attack was helped by its ability to use its arms and stretch its hand up to 9 inches in length while standing on its hind legs. This aggressive, upright stance was facilitated by a long tail that provided balance; it would otherwise be stretched horizontally when running and contributed to the raptor’s exceptional length measuring about 10 feet or 3 meters long. 

The Raptor will be on view at Christie's New York from Saturday, April 30, through Wednesday, May 11 and will be sold the night of Thursday, May 12.

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