Bigger is apparently better for collectors with a passion for natural history, as demonstrated at Bonhams' Natural History auction in Los Angeles, California on Sunday (December 11).
Among the sale's magnificently massive star lots was the "King of all Saber-tooths," one of the largest Saber-toothed cat skulls ever discovered. It sold alongside a more recent discovery: "one of the largest T. Rex teeth ever found."
Not surprisingly, both lots devoured the opposition at Bonhams' Natural History auction.
According to Bonhams, the King of all Saber-tooths (aka Machairodus Giganteus) prowled during the late Miocene period in Asia. This is one of the largest saber-toothed cat skulls ever discovered, from the largest saber-toothed cat species of all time.
Machairodus Giganteus, even larger than the famous Smilodon of the La Brea Tar Pits, is understood to have been a pack hunter. Back then, the Late Miocene savannahs of Central Asia teemed with life - much like the Serengeti plains of Africa today.
There, Machairodus Giganteus routinely made a meal of the massive herds of gomphotheres, hippo-like rhinos, giraffes, and various types of antelope. Its nemesis was Dinocrocta, a giant hyena which could grow to the size of a grizzly bear.
Although other members of the Machairodus Giganteus genus have been found in Europe, Africa and even North America, this particular specimen was utterly unique to Africa. The rare skull - measuring 17 ½ inches - sold for $116,500 at Bonhams.
As for "one of the largest T. Rex teeth ever found," the Tyrannosaurus Rex's tooth was excavated in Garfield County, Montana, US, as recently as summer 2011. Extraordinary in size, measuring 5 1/8 inches from its base to its tip, the tooth is more massive than any of the teeth of the well-known T. Rex, Sue.
Sue's complete skeleton was sold for an unsurpassed record price of $8.4m by Sotheby's in 1997, one of the first sales in the now-lucrative natural history collecting niche. Sue is now in The Field Museum, Chicago.
The tooth sold at Bonhams on Sunday is thought to be even larger than Sue's. Restoration work has been minimal, thanks to the tooth's excellent condition. It required just crack filling "accomplished to museum quality perfection," according to Bonhams.
Of all the carnivorous beasts of the Dinosaur age, Tyrannosaurus Rex has most captured the public's imagination. This factor combined with this tooth's condition, size and extreme rarity to bring a final $56,250 inclusive of Buyer's Premium.