HAVE A JURASSIC LARK
SKELETON EXPECTED TO DINO-$OAR AT AUCTION
Going, going, extinct.
A complete dinosaur skeleton will be sold at auction next month - a rare opportunity for New Yorkers to give their 21st-century habitats a little Jurassic decor.
The well-preserved dryosaur fossils, one of only two complete sets known to exist, are being sold by an anonymous private collector, said Josh Chait, director of the I.M. Chait Gallery.
"He got it straight from the paleontologists who discovered it in Wyoming in 1993," Chait said.
The 6-foot-tall dryosaurus, or "oak lizard," was a speedy herbivore with long, slender legs, a horny beak, heavy tail, and five-fingered hands that roamed the earth about 150 million years ago.
"The bones display a lovely soft, creamy coloring," according to the auction's catalog.
Although anyone is free to bid on the late-Jurassic dinosaur, only those with a lot of bones will be in the running, said Chait, who estimates the reptile remnants will sell for between $440,000 and $500,000.
"This is the largest and most complete skeleton we have ever sold," he said.
Well-heeled art collectors have in recent years been adding dinosaur fossils to their inventories.
"Not everyone is going to recognize a Monet or a Renoir when they visit, but everyone is going recognize the T-Rex skull on your wall right away," Chait said.
As for why the owner is parting with the dinosaur he's displayed in his home for 15 years, Chait said it's doubtful his decision had anything to do with the economic downturn.
"He is constantly getting new stuff, and maybe he has found a better specimen for that location," he said.
The only other dryosaur skeleton known to exist is on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
But according to Dr. Rod Scheetz of Brigham Young University, an authority on the Hipsilophodont family, of which the dryosaurus is a member, these fossils are superior.
It's "the best specimen I have ever seen," Scheetz said.
The March 21 auction also includes hundreds of other natural-history lots, including the skeleton of a wooly mammoth.
At 7 feet tall and 15 feet long, the mammoth is much more likely to end up in a Ripley's Believe it or Not than in a private home, Chait said.