The Galerie Charpentier was the setting for a landmark event this evening: Sothebys
first Natural History sale in Paris. After a five-day viewing that pulled in 4000 visitors, enthusiasm for all the natural marvels, skeletons and fossils on offer was confirmed throughout the sale.
Skeletons of prehistoric animals fetched the top prices, led by a complete, skeleton of a 33-foot Allosaurus (the T-Rex of Jurassic Period) from Wyoming. The carnivorus dinosaur soared to 1,296,750 a record in Europe for a dinosaur skeleton. The dimensions of this 70% complete specimen suggest it was a female.
In the words of sale expert/consultant Eric Mickeler: A star is born! The Sothebys Allosaurus today became part of human history. What will it become known as? We cant say yet, but I congratulate the buyer for blending excellent taste with daring bidding, in front of a packed saleroom.
The Allosaurus (different lizard) was a theropod, sometimes dubbed the Jurassic T-Rex, that lived 150-135 million years ago and could weigh up to 3 tons. It was a ferocious carnivore with huge, articulated jaws, lined with some 70 curved teeth, capable of extending horizontally to swallow its prey. Its short front limbs, each with three deadly claws, were used to immobilize its victims and tear off their flesh.
The rare skeleton of a woolly rhinoceros (Rhinoceros Tichorinus) from Siberia, complete with its original horn, sold to French collector Gérard Reynaud for 96,750. This Ice Age symbol (dating from the Pleistocene Epoch 100,000 years ago) was promptly presented by Monsieur Reynaud to the Institute of Human Paleontology in Paris. Institute Director Henry de Lumley reacted delightedly, saying this unique piece would be one of the most prestigious additions to our prehistoric collection for a century, and will now be at the disposal of the international scientific community.
Another sale highlight was one of few examples still in private hands of a complete skeleton of a Plesiosaurus (Cryptocleidus sp.), which cleared its 370,000 top estimate on 456,750.* This aquatic reptile was a swift-moving predator whose form inspired the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Exceptionally, the thorax, tail, neck, limbs and skull are all fully preserved.
A magnificent wall plaque (8ft 1in x 7ft 5in) of a fossilized palm-leaf, Sabalites sp. (Cenozoic Era), discovered at Green River Formation, raced to 120,750 against an estimate of 80,000-100,000; a complete Sphenodiscus Lenticularis ammonite (late Cretaceous Period) from South Dakota, with the opal-like appearance of a precious stone, flew to a triple-estimate 72,750; and a petrified oak butterfly plaque from Oregon (Middle Miocene Period, Juntura region) was propelled to 102,750 against an estimate of 40,000-50,000.