Tyrannosaurus skull, mammoth tusk auctioned

/ Source: The Associated Press

The skull of a large carnivorous dinosaur and the tusk of a shaggy-coated mammoth from the Ice Age sold for a combined $372,000 at a natural history auction, auction officials said.

Sunday's auction, which also featured a meteorite and other items, brought in a total of $1.55 million.

"This is the highest-grossing collection of natural history sold at auction since such sales figures began in 1995," said I.M. Chait Auctioneers' director of natural history, David Herskowitz.

The prepped and mounted 32-inch-long (81-centimeter-long) tyrannosaurus skull was sold to an anonymous California collector for $276,000, the third-highest amount paid for a prehistoric specimen at auction, said Darryl Pitt, the meteorite expert for Chait.

The highest ever paid was $8.36 million for the skeleton of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur named Sue in 1997, Pitt said.

The 10-foot (3-meter) tusk of a woolly mammoth found on the Siberian tundra was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for $96,000, the most such an item has commanded at auction, Pitt said.

An 11-pound (5-kilogram) aesthetic iron meteorite discovered in southwestern Africa fetched $32,000, Pitt said. And a gold nugget from western Australia weighing 62 troy ounces sold for $72,000.

"It was another banner day for extraterrestrial real estate but also for the terrestrial real estate as well," he said.

Among the 345 lots sold during the auction were a 75,000-year-old dire wolf skull for $60,000, a 10 million-year-old fossil penguin found in the Atacama Desert in Chile for $9,600, a multihued crystal from Afghanistan for $32,000, and a fossil plate of a flying dinosaur skeleton from Germany for $48,000, the company said.

Chait, a Beverly Hills, California, auction house oversaw the sale, its first in New York, at a Manhattan loft. The sale prices included a 20 percent buyer's premium, Pitt said.