Exceptional fossilised sea lilies beat estimate by 78%

A trio of exceptional fossilised sea lilies headlined a natural history auction at Sotheby's Paris on September 30.

The lot achieved $214,931 against a $120,463 estimate - an increase of 78.4%.

sea lilies
The fossils were discovered near Holzmaden in southern Germany

Also known as Crinoids, sea lilies are in fact marine invertebrates similar to starfish. These specimens are around 180m years old and were discovered in the fossil rich shale close to the town of Holzmaden in southern Germany.

They display strong pyritisation, resulting in an attractive finish.

Crinoids are known as living fossils (as are nautilus and horseshoe crabs) and remain widespread throughout the world's oceans.

A woolly mammoth skull also sold well, beating its $63,402 estimate by 183.7% to take $179,933.

It was discovered in Siberia and dates to the Late Pleistocene era (around 11,700 BC).

It's thought the discovery of mammoth bones on Greek islands in ancient times could have been the source for the myth of the Cyclops, as the central hole where the trunk sits resembles an eye socket.

A complete mammoth skeleton sold for $311,106 at Sotheby's New York in 2012. Another is up for auction at Summers Place late in November.

A particularly striking placenticeras ammonite, displaying opalescent colours, made $154,066 (up 120.9% on a valuation of $69,742).

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