The highly anticipated Natural History auction from Sotheby's saw a complete mammoth skeleton sell as top lot yesterday (October 2) in Paris.
The remarkable skeleton was consigned from the collection of the Kashiwagi museum in Japan, along with a range fossils, meteors and minerals. Such a complete skeleton is rarely found at auction, resulting in strong attention from both the media and eager collectors.
Sotheby's states that the skeleton is of a mammuthus primigenius and was discovered in Siberia. It dates back to the Middle Palaeolithic period (300,000 to 30,000 years ago) and was a contemporary of the Neanderthals. Against a $219,500-323,000 estimate, it sold for $311,106.
The auction's second highest bids came from a polished petrified wood table top. The wood originates from the Triassic period (250m to 200m years ago) and was found in Arizona. A highly attractive piece, it sold for $63,000.
Impressive results were seen by a large and rare plate of trilobites acadoparadoxides briareus, which achieved a 22.1% increase on its $45,000 high estimate to sell for $55,228. The trilobite is one of the most recognisable fossils and originates from the Early Cambrian period (around 510m years ago).
Also appearing was a perfectly intact egg of the aepyornis maximus, better known as the elephant bird.
The elephant bird once inhabited Madagascar, though it became extinct around the 17th century. Its egg has been known to have a circumference of over one metre and is around 160 times larger than that of a chicken. The example at auction, an extremely rare find, sold for $47,512.
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