Why not Purchase your very own Marine Reptile for Christmas!
Hammers have long been associated with fossils as palaeontologists carefully chip away at rocks with their geological hammers to reveal the remains of prehistoric animals. Today, Sunday 2nd December, one particular fossil is being associated with a very different type of hammer – the auctioneers gavel as a virtually complete fossil Mosasaur goes up for auction.
Bonhams the world famous auction house is selling the 30-foot mounted skeleton at a special sale a their Los Angeles sale rooms. This unusual collectors item is expected to fetch $400,000 dollars (£200,000). However, the purchaser will also have to pay for the removal and transportation of this delicate exhibit and the costs for getting this 10 metre long fossilised specimen which includes skull, flippers, ribs and 126 vertebrae back home could be considerable.
Fossils being auctioned is not a new phenomenon, many wealthy people including celebrities and film stars have purchased rare finds and curios over the last few years and this has pushed up the price of many fossils, especially those from the age of reptiles (Mesozoic).
Bonhams sale catalogue describes this lot as a Mosasaurus baugei, a graceful predator of the late Cretaceous; dining on fish, squid and other marine reptiles. Mosasaurs were not dinosaurs but marine reptiles related to modern snakes and lizards (order Squamata). They were named after the Latin name for the river Meuse “Mosa” in the Netherlands, as it was in a limestone mine at Maastricht close to this river that the first remains of Mosasaurs were discovered back in 1780. The naming of Mosasaurs pre-dates the founding of Bonhams by just 13 years as this now famous auction house with venues in London, San Francisco and Los Angeles was established in 1793.
Mosasaurs were a very successful group of marine reptiles, appearing in the early Cretaceous, these animals were to establish themselves as the most diverse group of large marine reptiles by the end of the Mesozoic with some of them such as the Russellosaurines evolving into giant, long-skulled predators that terrorised the other creatures of the deep.
This particular Mosasaur fossil was found in Africa, it is a very complete and well preserved specimen, the picture above shows the large eyes and the and the ring of bones that surrounded the eye ball. This is called the sclerotic ring, it helped support the large aqueous mass of the eyeball and may have assisted with focusing of the eye, improving the animal’s vision under water.