One of the great dinosaurs of the Cretaceous era, an eight-foot tall, 24-foot long, 75% complete Tyrannosaurus bataar – the slightly smaller Asian counterpart to the legendary North American T-Rex – will be the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions May 20 Natural History Signature® auction, taking place at Center 548 (548 W. 22nd Street, between 10thAve. and West Street). The stupendous, impeccably preserved museum-quality specimen is expected to bring $950,000+.
The Tyrannosaurs, along with the rest of the rare and valuable specimens in the auction will be on public display May 17-19. There will be a special press event on Wednesday, May 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“This beautiful Tyrannosaurus skeleton is one of the most complete, most spectacular specimens that we’ve ever seen,” said David Herskowitz, Director of Natural History at Heritage Auctions. “These dinos, distant cousins of the T-Rex, were recently reclassified as Tyrannosaurids. They’re incredibly rare to come across in any condition, let alone one as pristine as this.”
The Tyrannosaurus bataar roamed what is now Central Asia in the Cretaceous period, around 80 million years ago. The dino was discovered within the past decade and has been in storage in England, still in its field jackets, for the last 2-1/2 years.
“Dinosaurs of this size and scarcity almost never come to market fully prepared and fully mounted like this, making it a singular opportunity for the right collector or institution,” said Herskowitz. “Consider this: Sue, the famous T-Rex that’ Sotheby’s sold back in 1997, was neither prepped nor mounted when she came across the auction block, ultimately realizing a price of more than $8 million.”
In complement to the full-sized Tyrannosaurus, Heritage will also offer a fantastic Tyrannosaurus bataar tooth with and erupting crown, arguably the finest Tyrannosaurus bataar tooth known and certainly one of the largest, measuring 10-1/2 inches long with 3-3/4 inches of enamel on both crowns, estimated at $18,000+.
The Tyrannosaurus bataar is not the only spectacular dino specimen offered in the auction, as evidenced by the presence of a truly fantastical ankylosaurid skull from a Cretaceous era Saichania chulsanensis, literally meaning “Beautiful one,” estimated at $60,000+.
“Broader than it is long, with two sets of distinctive horn-like protrusions at the rear, it’s no wonder dinosaurs like these were thought to be dragon skulls when they were discovered in ancient times,” said Herskowitz. “They could grow to about 23-feet in length, roughly six feet high and around 2 tons. Standing next to this thing you can really get a sense of not just its heft, but also its dreadful beauty.”
Other dinosaur highlights of the auction, which will also be on display in New York in May, include a very fine Cretaceous-era Troodontidae, or “Bird-Dinosaur” skeleton, 28 inches in length and 17-1/2 inches high, estimated at $45,000+, a superb “Duck-Billed” dinosaur skull from an Edmontosaurus annectens out of the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, an amazing 75-80% original and 47 inches long overall (estimate: $35,000+), a superlative American Mosasaur skull (Tylosaurus kansasensis) – a family of serpentine marine reptiles, apex predators and the scourge of the many and varied ocean-dwelling creatures with which they shared the ancient waters, from the Smoky Hill Chalk, Niobrara Formation in Western Kansas, USA, estimated at $30,000+.
Further highlights include a spectacular pair of antique elephant trunks (estimate: $70,000+), both more than eight feet long, from the Mr. and Mrs. William Coors Collection, which were taken in Kenya in the 1930s and were, at the time, amongst the very largest ever taken in the area. When the Coors’ acquired them in 1997 they were recorded as the third largest pair in North America; a beautiful, sculptural large Megalodon Shark Jaw, more than five feet tall, with 138 Fossil Teeth, all gathered off Cape Fear, North Carolina (estimate: $65,000+) and a Giant Asian Saber-Toothed Cat Skull (estimate: $40,000+) of superb quality and detail measuring a massive 16-1/2 inches long by 13-1/2 inches tall and 8-1/2 inches across with fearsome 4-1/2 inch sabers. These measurements place this specimen within the top 1% of all known specimens for absolute size.
Further highlights include, but are not limited to:
Superbly elegant fossil Sea Lily: Seirocrinus subangularis, Lower Jurassic from the Posidonienschiefer Formation, Holzmaden, Baden-Württemburg, Germany. A large, beautiful, extremely impressive plaque, representing one of the finest fossil formations in the world, measuring a dramatic 84⅜ x 44¼ inches. Estimate: $35,000+.
Fine and large Gem Ammonite: Placenticeras meeki, Late Cretaceous from the Bearpaw Formation, southern Alberta, Canada. A superb example of one of the most attractive and sought-after of all fossils. The specimen is flattened, as is usual, but two thirds of it retains a good amount of inflation, making for a highly dramatic and eye-catching display piece, 18-1/2 inches in diameter. Estimate: $35,000-$50,000.
Splendid Giant “Great Elephant Bird” Egg: Aepyornis maximus, Holocene era, from Madagascar. This incredible egg is from the largest bird ever to have lived, the 10-foot tall Aepyornis of Madagascar. Remarkably little is known about the creature, however, because no complete skeleton has ever been discovered; in fact, less than 40 complete, unbroken specimens are known to exist. The volume of this egg roughly equals that of 170 chicken eggs. Estimate: $35,000+.
Giant Fossil Palm and Stingray: Heliobatus radians, Sabalites sp., Knightia sp., Eocene era from the Green River Formation, Lincoln Co., Wyoming. The Heliobatus Stingray is one of the rarer species to be found in the Green River Fossil Lake Formation in southwest Wyoming. A superbly beautiful and highly impressive natural plaque of exceptional rarity, 80 x 48 inches. Estimate: $30,000+.
Spectacular Fossil Fish Aspiration: Diplomystus dentatus, Knightia eocaena, Eocene Era from the Green River Formation, Lincoln Co., Wyoming. Even amongst the abundant treasures of the Fossil Lake in southwest Wyoming, the occurrence of an aspiration is rare. This is the instance of one fish caught in the act of eating another, where the smaller creature effectively choked the larger one to death, and they were united for all eternity in a never-ending mealtime. The present example is truly outstanding, both for its size and for the level of detail. Estimate: $8,000+.
Rare Dodo Bird Skeleton Cast: Raphus cucullatus, Holocene Era from Mauritius. A museum-quality reproduction of an extremely scarce skeleton of one of the most emblematic and enigmatic species in the world. It stands 28½ inches high. Estimate: $3,500+.
Fine Raptor Egg: Elongatoolithus sp., Late Cretaceous Era, from Central Asia, an excellent example of a classic Oviraptorid egg, of familiar elongated form, measuring 7-1/2 inches long. Estimate: $2,500+.
Large and Fine Ammonite: Kranaosphinctes sp., Jurassic Era, Madagascar. This spectacular specimen represents a classic Ammonite fossil from Madagascar, of a large and impressive caliber that has become scarce on the market. Estimate: $2,500+.
Mating Insects in Amber: Diptera, Eocene Era, from Yantarny Kalingrad, Russia. Estimate: $700+.
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $800 million, and 700,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.