Natural history auction includes rare T. Rex skeleton


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Photo courtesy of Craig Cutler This Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton- dubbed "Samson" - will be featured in Bonhams & Butterfields Oct. 3 natural history auction.

LAS VEGAS – One of the largest known Tyrannosaurus rex specimens ever discovered will be offered by international auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields on Oct. 3, 2009, during the company’s first Natural History auction to be held at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

The auction will contain approximately 50 lots of fossils with the centerpiece of the sale focusing on the expertly mounted female T. rex, expected to bring millions of dollars.

The rare 66-million year old Tyrannosaurus skeleton – dubbed “Samson” – is arguably one of the three most complete specimens to have been discovered. Native to North America, Tyrannosaurus rex is recognized as the ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ and is the most famous of the behemoths of the “Age of Dinosaurs.” This rare example from the Cretaceous period was excavated near Buffalo, S.D., over 15 years ago.

Originally prepared by scientists and technicians at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa., “Samson’s” skull is considered to be one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus skulls in existence. The entire specimen contains approximately 170 bones, more than 50 percent of the total bone count of an entire skeleton. In life, “Samson” was equal in weight to “Sue,” the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton which sold for $8.3 million in 1997.

Of further interest are pathologies (evidence of healed injury or disease) of the skull and portions of the skeleton that open a window into the life of this virtual beast. The skeleton is beautifully prepared and mounted utilizing the most modern methods, which allows for new discoveries and enhanced aesthetic qualities.  

According to Peter Larson, Tyrannosaur Paleontologist: “Although research on this particular Tyrannosaurus is still incomplete, it is believed by experts to be one of four possible examples of a yet-unnamed species of Tyrannosaurus. I look forward to seeing the entire assembled and fully prepared skeleton in Las Vegas.”  

This animal was most likely a very skilled hunter with binocular color vision and an extremely sensitive sense of smell. In life, “Samson” measured approximately 40 feet in length and could have looked into a second story window. Its massive skull and powerful serrated teeth could have bitten through the leg bone of any contemporary dinosaur. During the Cretaceous Period, Tyrannosaurs occupied a position at the apex of the food chain giving this creature lasting celebrity.

“Bonhams & Butterfields’ fall auction celebrates the art of natural wonders and the continued excitement associated with a possible new discovery,” said Thomas Lindgren, Co-Director of Natural History at Bonhams & Butterfields.

In addition to “Samson,” the Oct. 3 sale will also feature approximately 50 lots of high quality and distinctive dinosaur specimens and exceptional fossils. Other highlights will include a fully mounted, 28-foot-long “duckbilled” dinosaur skeleton and a 7-foot-long fossil shark from the Permian Period, which was discovered in Germany (estimates upon request).

The illustrated catalog will be available online for review at www.bonhams.com/us in the weeks preceding the auction. The specimen will be exhibited and sold in the space formerly occupied by The Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, designed by renowned architect Rem Koolhaas.

A public preview will be held from Sept. 18-Oct. 3 at The Venetian in Las Vegas.



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