Triceratops skull leads $1.5 million Natural History Auction at Heritage

In the pre-auction buzz surrounding the Jan. 17-18 Signature® Natural History Auction at Heritage Auction Galleries, there was little that could compete with the excitement surrounding an almost fully intact triceratops skull, which didn’t disappoint with a final price of more than $250,000. The almost faultless example took top honors as the highest-priced lot, and the most glamorous, in an auction that realized just more than $1.5 million, with that total to continue climbing once all post-auction sales are registered.
“It’s not surprising that this triceratops skull would attract such interest,” said David Herskowitz, Director of Natural History at Heritage. “This is a once in a lifetime find, an object of startling beauty and rarity and one of the most pristine dinosaur fossils on the planet. That seems to me like $250,000 well spent.”
The much-anticipated triceratops skull wowed the auction audience with its sheer enormity and daunting presence. It had onlookers standing several deep around the imposing relic, situated in the center of the Heritage showroom, each jockeying for a better view of the commanding dinosaur cranium, almost fully intact, giving those close to it a breathtaking feel for what it might have been like to be next to the living breathing thing. It’s safe to say that getting this close to a real triceratops would have been close to impossible; for many in the room it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“The triceratops skull is one of the biggest ever found,” said Herskowitz. “There was a lot of speculation about whether a buyer would come forward with the economy in its current state. The short answer is: Yes. High quality, rare examples of Natural History, like those we had in this auction, will always find a place.”
Minerals, rare amber, pieces of the moon and Planet Mars, as well as precious metals, also performed very well at the auction, with several superb examples standing out among the results: An American Pyromorphite, with a lovely and unique yellow-green hue, wowed bidders and onlookers alike as it rose to a final price of $131,450; an exceptional “Brandberg” scepter cluster of quartz, with mirror bright luster – one of the finest specimens of its kind ever found – found a home with a happy collector at $119,500; a large lizard, fully preserved in prehistoric amber was one of the most spectacular lots in the auction, and certainly one of the rarest Natural History lots to ever be offered at public auction, realized $95,600. Two truly gorgeous mineral lots, an exceptional Scheelite of golden-yellow orange color and a classic American Red Cloud Wulfenite, both brought $71,700, and showed the continuing allure of faultless mineral clusters; a large 175 million-year-old Mars Chassignite meteorite, the rarest of all Martian meteorites, and certainly of museum quality, finished the day at $35,850; a stunning semi-crystallized gold nugget, of rare beauty and size (5 inches by 4 inches, 32 ounces) soared to $29,277.50 when bidding finally ended.
 “This was certainly a superb showing for the Natural History Department here at Heritage,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage. “The quality of the offerings, and the solid prices realized further cements our place in the auction world as the undisputed leader in Natural History auctions.”
To see complete results from this auction, to read detailed listings and to download fully enlargeable images, go online to

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