RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Alan Detrich has hunted dinosaur fossils since the 1990s and believes the triceratops skull a colleague found near Buffalo may be the biggest ever.
Fossil experts won't know how the skull compares to others until it's cleaned up, which will likely take between a year and a year and a half, he said.
Detrich was transporting the 8-foot skull on a flatbed trailer Monday through Rapid City on his way to Wyoming. He had bought the skull from fellow fossil hunter John Carter, who lives in Buffalo. Detrich is planning on reselling the skull.
Detrich estimates this Triceratops was twice as big as an elephant while a normal triceratops is about the size of an elephant.
He said he expects the discovery to be quite valuable.
"Oh yeah, it's going to be over a million bucks," Detrich said.
Detrich also stopped Monday in Hill City at the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, an organization that mounts fossils for museums, researches prehistory and helps fossil hunters sell their fossils. Black Hills Institute President Pete Larson didn't know whether the skull was the biggest ever, but he was impressed.
"It has a huge nasal horn, like a 16-inch nasal horn," Larson said. "It's definitely big. There's no question about it."
Triceratops lived only in the Western U.S. about 66 million years ago, though they had relatives in other parts of the world. Only six mounts of original skeletons reportedly exist in the world today.
"Skeletons are quite rare even though they're really well-known," Larson said.
Skulls are more common than skeletons, though only about 100 skulls exist, Larson said.
Carter had dug the skull out of the ground in just a few months and Detrich plans to pair the skull with a body he's digging out of ground near Fort Peck, Mont. Then, he plans to sell the complete dinosaur.
In the meantime, Detrich hopes to sell two horns and a Tyrannosaurus rex tooth to help finance cleaning up the triceratops skull.
Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, http://www.bhpioneer.com