Martian meteorites, fossilized skeletons share spotlight in Heritage Nature & Science Platinum Night Auction
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Martian meteorites, fossilized skeletons share spotlight in Heritage Nature & Science Platinum Night Auction
Not since the namesake fall of the Chassignite Martian Meteorite variety fell in Chassigny, France, back in 1815 has another occurred until "Diderot" now classified as NWA 2737 in 2000 hit Morocco.

DALLAS, TX.- A pair of important Martian meteorites, each of which could bring $300,000 or more and a selection of significant fossils are just a handful of the extraordinary specimens that will cross the block in Heritage Auctions' Nature & Science Platinum Night Auction March 19.

"This is an exceptional sale, a curated event that really represents the best of the best in a number of categories," Heritage Auctions Nature & Science Director Craig Kissick said. "What started out as something of a boutique auction has evolved into a truly exceptional Platinum event with incredible, museum-quality fossils and meteorites that can stand as the centerpieces of any collection."

Found in 2001, NWA 1950 Martian Meteorite - Main Mass Martian (shergottite) is classified as a shergottite-lherzolithic and is an iconic variety. From what is considered the most beautiful of Martian Meteorites, this rare Peridotite specimen (estimate: $300,000-500,000) is nicknamed the "Jules Verne" in homage to his work The Chase of the Golden Meteor, which originally was published in 1908. The offered specimen is the main mass of the Jules Verne, weighing a massive 231.8 grams out of the total known weight of 812 grams found.

The NWA 2737 Martian Meteorite - Main Mass Martian (chassignite), which also carries a pre-auction estimate of $300,000-500,000, is another exceptionally important meteorite, nicknamed "Diderot" for 18th century philosopher Denis Diderot, a 185.6-gram specimen that makes up roughly 30 percent of the total known weight of the meteorite, which weighed in at 611 grams. This rare Martian Meteorite, which fell in Morocco, has a crystallization "age" dating back 1.36 billion years as well as images on the NASA website. One of the most important meteorite specimens on the planet, this one, from Mars, is beyond museum-quality.

"The current NASA mission to put the rover Perserverance on Mars makes the Martian Meteorites incredibly relevant and important," Kissick said. "The top two lots were part of the surface of Mars, and were jettisoned after impact with some kind of asteroid material. The samples offered here are the kind that could capture the spotlight in a museum collection."

The Brenham Meteorite Pallasite, PMG-an (estimate: $150,000-250,000) is a "flight-oriented" Meteorite, with markings that indicate the direction in which it was pointed upon entry in Earth's atmosphere. Evidenced by its parabolic shape, indicative of a heat shield, this Meteorite's Earth-facing surface was ablated and sculpted smooth by friction with the atmosphere resulting in a curvature that effectively deflected the fiery plasma surrounding it during its descent. Flight-oriented meteorites are exceedingly rare and coveted, as examples are reminiscent of the heat shields on manned space capsules. This Brenham fragment was found by Geologist Philip Mani and Adventurer Steve Arnold outside of Greensburg, Kansas, in 2006, and remains one of the most significant American Meteorite finds in recent history. This massive showpiece measures 21 by 17 by 11 inches and weighs approximately 145.5 kilograms (320.77 pounds).

A Mosasaur Skeleton (estimate: $100,000-150,000) dates back approximately 80+ million years and evidences a superb preservation as well as an expert restoration that results in this striking museum-quality example designed to be wall mounted. Mosasaurs were apex predators of the time, and Platecarpus was a medium-sized variety of mosasaur that roamed and dominated those ancient waters preying on a variety of aquatic fauna. The giant predatory marine creature was a "sea monster" during the Late Cretaceous and was characterized by its short skull with fewer teeth of a conical, pointed appearance.

A Fossil Ichthyosaur (estimate: $100,000-150,000) is one of the marine reptiles often inaccurately described as dinosaur. The Ichthyosaur (meaning "fish lizard") was one of the most iconic marine reptiles of all time. The offered Stenopterygius variety somewhat resembled a modern-day dolphin; this astonishing example of immense size and exceptional preservation is a museum-quality representation. The famed Holzmaden Lagerstätte in Germany produced this fossil measuring some 11 feet (3.4 meters) in length that is wonderfully placed in a natural shale matrix with an irregular, organic shape.

A Fossil Crocodile (estimate: $80,000-120,000) measures just over 11 feet in length. Out of the famed Holzmaden Lagerstätte in Germany, this fossil offers both size and quality in a unique manner as the piece was prepared some time ago using an "old style" of restoration, resulting in a classic presentation with a rustic nature which highlights the fine preservation of the bony material. This representation of that saltwater crocodilian, which has been equated with Macrospondylus, is presented in a metal channel frame, serving to border its rectangular rocky matrix. Designed for wall hanging in the horizontal position, the fossil could also be installed with a vertical orientation. Expert analyses have confirmed this is a top specimen of the variety.

A Cave Bear Skeleton (estimate: $30,000-50,000) is an imposing figure that stands just over 7 feet tall. Named because of the fact that many fossils of the "Ice Age" mammal have been found in caves, Cave Bears were the largest of all bears, even outsizing the numerous varieties of bears known today. This specimen, presented in a dominant "attacking" position, is outstanding with a great, larger skull, which measures nearly 17 inches (43.18 cm) in length. While their appearance may not be indicative, Cave Bears likely lived a primarily herbivorous diet. Given a relatively recent extinction from the fossil record, Cave Bears likely competed with humans in terms of occupying caves of the time although it is not believed Homo sapiens of the "Ice Age" directly hunted bears as with mammoths and mastodons.

A Woolly Mammoth Tusk (estimate: $50,000-70,000) may be the best example Heritage Auction has handled in the last 30 years. The tusk, dubbed "The Ocean" because of its blue hue, which is a result of the replacement of the mineral Vivianite during the fossilization process of the ancient ivory. The creative and clever mount allows for a dramatic and impactful display which highlights the size, shape and, most importantly, color of this tusk, which absolutely is one of THE most visually stunning, well preserved, and overall superior tusks to grace the market in some time.

Other top lots include, but are not limited to:

• A Fossil Crinoid Plate (estimate: $50,000-70,000)
• A Rhodochrosite with Quartz & Sphalerite (estimate: $50,000-70,000)
•A Gibeon Meteorite (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
• A Gibeon Meteorite (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
• A Fossil Lake Mural (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
• A "Gem" Ammonite in Matrix (estimate: $40,000-60,000)
• A Gold & Arsenopyrite in Quartz (estimate: $30,000-50,000)
• A Brenham Meteorite End Cut (estimate: $25,000-35,000)
• A "Duck-Billed" Dinosaur Leg (estimate: $20,000-30,000)

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