A 165 million year old skeleton
An exceptionally well-preserved plesiosaur skull. Middle Jurassic period (circa 165 million years ago). 117cm long. Estimate: £60,000-90,000. This item is offered in our Out of the Ordinary sale on 10 September at Christie's South Kensington
This near-complete skull and neck once belonged to a Middle Jurassic plesiosaur, Crytptoclidus eurymerus — making it around 165 million years old. Measuring 117cm long, the extraordinarily rare specimen was found in the fossil-rich lower Oxford Clay of Peterborough. It is currently recognised as the best-preserved skull known of this species.
Measuring up to three metres in length, the living Cyptoclidus had jaws lined with around 100 long, fine teeth, ideal for catching fish and squid. Marine based, the creature powered through water using four broad, paddle-shaped limbs — a movement which scientists have variously described as ‘gliding’ or ‘flying’.
Expertly prepared by one of the UK’s leading fossil specialists, this example is almost entirely free of surrounding supports, allowing every bone to be examined. The specimen includes 27 vertebrae and sharp slender teeth, arranged to protrude ominously from its jaw.
The ‘King’ of the dinosaurs
A massive bronzed fibreglass model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Modern. On an integral naturalistic base with castors. From nose to tail measures 760cm, height 265cm. Estimate: £10,000-15,000
The most legendary of all dinosaurs, the T Rex was one of the largest land carnivores of all time, fittingly taking its name from the Latin for ‘King’. Living on a diet of other dinosaurs — and occasionally other T Rex — the animal weighed in at a hefty 6.8 metric tons.
At 760cm from nose to tail, and standing at 265cm high, this bronzed fibreglass model would make an imposing addition to any collection. The piece captures the creature’s powerful hind legs and characteristically short forelimbs — which nevertheless packed some punch.
The original Damien Hirst?
A Welsh taxidermy specimen of a polycephalic lamb (Ovis Aries). The two-headed lamb seated, amongst a stony landscape with snails, branches and plants, in Early 20th century. Estimate: £3,000-5,000
The Victorians had an unusual predilection for strangely-formed animals, turning to taxidermy to preserve the most weird and wonderful examples.
While some of these creatures were created posthumously — the taxidermist stitching on an extra limb here and there to add interest — this two-headed lamb is presented as it was born, in 1906. The unfortunate creature lived for only two weeks before it was permanently preserved in a glass box, set amongst a bucolic landscape featuring snails, branches and plants.
An English taxidermy group of a fox and pheasant. Both with inset glass eyes, the fox modelled standing with plastic shotgun, on a stained wood plinth. Late 20th century. Estimate: £1,000-1,500
The taxidermy fox at the centre of this work is caught mid-stride, a shotgun in one paw, his victim — a colourful pheasant — in the other. Produced during a period that saw great advances in shotgun manufacturing, the piece offers witty twist on the traditional hunting model.
A mythical model
A model of a ‘unicorn’ (Equus Caballus). Estimate: £4,000–6,000
For those with an appreciation for the unexpected, this model unicorn — complete with ebonised plinth — is the ideal design accessory. The piece taps into a niche unicorn trend; in recent years, celebrated designers including Les Trois Garçons have been strong advocates of the mystical creature’s decorative potential.
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