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Of the many wonderful pieces I’ve seen this year, this fossil was one that, for me, best captured the magic blend between art and science.
At over two foot tall, this single backbone really gave an impression of the size of the animal that it came from. The geological processes that preserves this bone — petrifying it — meant that it was incredibly fragile but also very heavy; so it presented something of a logistical challenge to move it in out and out of photo studios, cataloging warehouses and the saleroom.
A massive dinosaur vertebra, Colorado, USA. From the Upper Jurassic, Salt and Pepper, Quarry, (circa 155 million years ago), the dorsal vertebra of a Camarasaurus sp. 26in. (66cm.) High on stand. Estimate: £1,000-1,500. Sold for £4,750 on 8 October at Christie’s South Kensington
Camarasaurus, a giant herbivoruous dinosaur, lived 155 million years ago — so long ago, in fact, that the time between when it roamed the earth and when the famous T-rex did is significantly longer than the timespan between T-rex and humans living today. I find that quite a sobering thought.
But what I really loved about this vertebra was that, stripped of all of its scientific context, it was simply a beautiful object. Many clients commented on how it resembled either early Venus sculptures or pieces of Tribal and Ancient art. On the day of the auction we had collectors of antiquities, contemporary art, old master paintings, as well as natural history collectors, competing for it, which resulted in the fossil realising more than times its low estimate.
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