Dino Tracks Lead To Phenomenal Martian Rock In Chait’s May 6 Natural History Auction In addition to the Martian meteorite the sale will feature the skull of a baby triceratops, a fossilized dragon skull, a complete dinosaur skeleton and a selection of coprolites and dinosaur eggs.
News-Antique.com - Apr 11,2012 - BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – I.M. Chait’s industry-leading Natural History sales are a showcase for once-in-a-lifetime specimens, like the spectacular meteorite from Mars that headlines the company’s May 6 auction. Extraordinarily rare, the fist-size rock that landed in an African desert last July 18 probably took hundreds of millions of years to travel from Mars to earth.
It is known as the Tissint Meteorite – a reference to the name of the Moroccan town nearest to where nomads in the Oued Drâa valley found the fusion-crusted stone after it made its dramatic landing. According to eyewitnesses, a yellow fireball streaked across the sky, turned a bright green color, then split into two parts as two loud sonic booms were emitted. Experts would later determine – amid much excitement – that the specimens found near Tissint had originated on Mars.
“Less than 0.1% of all known meteorites are recorded as Martian in origin, and since this was the first Martian meteorite fall to be observed since 1962, it is most likely the only such fall that will be observed in most current earth inhabitants’ lifetimes,” said Chait’s natural history director, Jake Chait.
The entire Tissint fall is thought to comprise little more than 10kg (approx. 22 lbs.) of material. London’s Natural History Museum holds a Tissint specimen weighing 1.1kg (approx. 2.4 lbs.) and considers it the most important meteorite of the last 100 years.
One quality that makes the Tissint Meteorite so significant is its freshness. Unlike meteorites that lay undiscovered for years – in some cases, thousands of years – it has not been contaminated by the earth’s soil, water or bacteria, and therefore is a very fresh and valuable resource for the study of its home planet’s geology. Tiny air bubbles trapped in the rock may even provide insight as to the atmosphere of the Red Planet. A truly superb specimen that weighs in at 10.5 oz. (298 grams), the Tissint Meteorite is expected to make $200,000-$300,000 at auction.
During the prehistoric period that the Tissint Meteor(ite) is likely to have departed Mars, the earth was inhabited by early dinosaurs and other exotic reptiles. Now animal and mineral specimens of that fascinating era will come together on the same planet in the same place, at I.M. Chait’s May 6 auction.
One of the sale’s top zoological lots is the skull of a baby (10-12 years old) triceratops found at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, a site that produced many highly important fossils. The triceratops skull is one of very few of its type in existence. Its consignor acquired the specimen from the person who actually excavated it from the Hell Creek field. It will be offered with a $60,000-$80,000 estimate.
A jointed leg from a fearsome Tarbosaurus bataar (Tyrannosaurus) is more than 6½ feet tall and is presented on a custom metal armature. The leg dates to the end of the Cretaceous period, approximately 70 to 65 million years ago, and is in an exemplary state of preservation, from