Superb saber-tooth tiger skeleton, massive gold nugget lead I.M. Chait May 4 Natural History Auction The finest known example of a saber-tooth tiger skeleton and a hefty Australian gold nugget join ancient fossils, meteorites and mineral specimens in I.M. Chait's May 4 Natural History Auction.
News-Antique.com - Apr 18,2013 - BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The finest known example of a saber-tooth tiger skeleton and a hefty Australian gold nugget are expected to reign over an imposing lineup of ancient fossils, meteorites and mineral specimens in I.M. Chait’s May 4 Important Natural History Auction in Beverly Hills.
The 67-inch-long tiger skeleton (Lot 326) represents a fearsome predator that once menaced the animal kingdom of South Dakota’s White River Badlands. It heads the zoological portion of the sale with a $250,000-$300,000 estimate.
“The saber-tooth tiger’s reputation precedes him,” said Jake Chait, director of I.M. Chait’s Natural History department. “With one swipe, he could sever the arteries or windpipe of another animal, making it easy prey.”
The tiger skeleton is superbly preserved and 70-80% complete, rendering it in a class of its own. “There isn’t a more complete specimen of this type, either in a museum or private collection, anywhere in the world,” said Chait. “Not only does this skeleton present an extremely rare opportunity for scientific research, it is aesthetically second to none, with incredible 4-inch-long sabers and a beautiful patination that only comes as a result of the natural ageing process.”
An outstanding skeleton from a massive woolly rhinoceros (Lot 325) dates to the Pleistocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. It is believed that giant woolly rhinos roamed the wilds of Siberia during the last Ice Age and developed their thick coats as a defense against the brutal climate. The impressive skeleton in Chait’s sale measures 177 inches long and 72 inches high, and is, in the truest sense of the word a “museum-class” specimen, having previously been part of the Kashiwagi Museum Collection in Japan. It carries a pre-sale estimate of $90,000-$120,000.
Another exciting auction highlight is the skull of an extremely rare giant dire wolf (Lot 324) from the Rancho La Brea Formation, ex George Lee Collection. Scientifically classified as Canis dirus, the now-extinct dire wolf once inhabited Kern County, California, where tar pits similar to those at the La Brea site in Los Angeles proved a fatal attraction to indigenous beasts.
“The tar pits were covered in water and would trap unsuspecting animals who mistook them for benign ponds,” said Chait. “Skeletons of mastodons, mammoths, horses and bison have been found at California’s tar pits, but a dire wolf is an especially rare and desirable find.”
The skull offered in the May 4 sale represents the largest end of the spectrum, size wise, for a dire wolf. It measures 12 inches long by 7 inches wide by 5¼ inches high, and is estimated at $60,000-$80,000.
Posed as though navigating the waters near its native Morocco, the skeleton of a marine reptile known as a Mosasaur (Lot 295), Late Cretaceous Period, exhibits an elongated, streamlined body and broad, flexible tail. Considered the closest ancient relative to today’s snakes, it grew to lengths of 10 to 60 feet. The skeleton is a first-class example that measures 59 inches long by 43 inches high. Estimate: $50,000-$60,000.