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Lot
53362

ICTHYOSAUR. Posidonienschiefer. Holzmaden, Germany. ...

2013 Oct 19-20 Nature & Science Signature Auction - Dallas #5141

 
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Auction Ended On: Oct 20, 2013
Item Activity: 5 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Heritage Auctions - Design District Annex
1518 Slocum Street
Dallas, TX

Description:
ICTHYOSAUR
Posidonienschiefer
Holzmaden, Germany


Nature operates very much like a symphony; certain themes are presented, variations on the theme are explored and then repeated with further variations. The Dolphins of today had antecedents in the Icthyosaurs of the Mesozoic. Although Ichthyosaurs were marine reptiles they filled the exact same ecological niche as modern Dolphins. Biologists refer to this as convergent evolution. Moreover, both Dolphins and Icthyosaurs were the descendants of land-dwelling animals: reptiles in one case and mammals in the other. The Ichthyosaur "movement" in the great symphony of Life lasted around 150 million years, terminating some 90 million years ago. This denizen of those distant times had the good fortune to expire and sink into still, anoxic bottom sediments, where it was rapidly buried under a soft rain of fine sediment that eventually became oil-shale: the Posidonia Oil-shale. Some 185 million years later, the shale was found to be useful for roofing slates and a quarry was opened to take advantage of this material. During quarrying operations, the large number of other animals suffering the same fate as our Icthyosaur, led to the locality being, not just useful as a stone quarry, which it was, but also an important fossil locality or lagerstatte as palaeotologists call such things. The example seen here shows good articulation with prominent vertebrae as well as well-preserved rib, flipper and skull bones. The huge eye-socket indicates that sight was an important part of the modus operandi of this fish-killer. The Icthyosaur measures approximately 51 x 20 inches (129.5 x 50.8 cm). It is embedded in the dark black shale typical of the locality. The fossil plate measures 59 inches by 34 inches (150cm by 100.1cm). The Holzmaden Lagerstatte is now closed to commercial fossil extraction, so any further material can only be derived from already quarried material.
Professionally prepared in Germany by some of the best fossil preparators in the world.

Provenance: From a private San Francisco collection.

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