Prehistoric Siberian mammoth auctioned

17th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 16, 2007 (AFP) - The skeleton of a Siberian mammoth around 15,000 years old went under the hammer Monday for 260,000 euros (352,000 dollars) at a rare and crowded paleontology sale by Christie's auction house.

PARIS, April 16, 2007 (AFP) - The skeleton of a Siberian mammoth around 15,000 years old went under the hammer Monday for 260,000 euros (352,000 dollars) at a rare and crowded paleontology sale by Christie's auction house.

The name of the buyer was not made public.

The skeleton, which with its tusks stands 3.8 metres (12.5 feet) high and measures over 4.8 metres in length, had been estimated at between 150,000 euros (199,400 dollars) and 180,000 euros.

The piece -- nicknamed "the President" -- was "exceptionally large," according to Christie's, which emphasized the rarity of finding such an artifact at public auction.

The "mammuthus primigenius" dating back to the Quaternary period, or later Pleistocene, was put up for sale by an unnamed "private European collector."

Also sold Monday was the skeleton of a woolly rhinoceros some 10,000 years old that went for 100,000 euros (135,000 dollars), well above its estimated price of 65,000 euros.

Christie's auctioned 90 rare objects, including the three skeletons -- the third that of a cave bear, which was owned by a private collector and sold for 39,000 euros -- approximately double its lowest estimate. Also at auction was well as a collection of trilobites, or fossils of arthropods, dating from 400 million years ago, owned by a French veterinarian.

Among them was the fossil of an angel fish dating back 50 million years and one of only five known examples of the species in the world.

A rare bezoar, a pearl that forms in the stomach of certain herbivores, was also going under the hammer.

While fossils are popular in the United States and Japan, there have been few such auctions in France, where a mammoth skeleton went for 180,000 euros in June last year.

Scientists are lukewarm about putting fossils up for auction, with paleontologist Philippe Janvier of France's Natural Science Museum telling AFP last week that "while many fossils are of little interest ... major pieces which could help science progress can always turn up in such sales."

Paleontologist Martin Pickford of the College of France labelled these types of sales "totally unacceptable" because they "encourage people to damage scientific heritage."

"The bait of gain," he said, "encourages (people) to remove fossils without any concern as to their geological context, thereby further erasing precious information."

Monday also marked the first time Christie's allowed people to bid via the internet. The first internet buyer bought a lot of two trilobites for 500 euros (659 dollars).

Several pieces failed to pass the 500 euro mark, while others greatly exceeded estimates. An agate estimated at 1500 euros (2000 dollars) sold for 48,000, while a turtle print estimated at 1,500 euros sold for 7,000. 


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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