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    Stenopterygius guadriseissus
    Posidonienshciefer Formation, Holzmaden, Germany

    This wonderful specimen of the great aquatic reptile is one of the finest a collector could hope to find; So well preserved that one can even see the remnants of its last meal behind the bar-like rows of slender ribs (a squid-like belmnite, identifiable from its hooklets). It is almost entirely complete, with no restoration and in a beautiful state of preservation; one's eye can wander from the well-ordered and delineated bones of the tail fin and body skeleton, via the almost abstract circular patterning of the flippers, to the detailed structure of the snout, with the characteristic sclerotic ring, the bone that supported its non-spherical eyeball, proportionately the largest of any animal ever to have lived. The areas apparently lacking in the dorsal and tail fins in fact had no bony structure to be preserved, but their presence is artfully conjured in the viewer's imagination through the skill of the preparator. The ichthyosaur - Greek for "fish lizard" - first appeared 250 million years ago, 20 million years before the first dinosaur, and became extinct about 25 million years before their land-dwelling counterparts (about 90 million years ago). They seem to have evolved from land-dwelling reptiles who returned to the oceans. The structure of their flippers suggests that the bones evolved from a form more similar to an arm and a hand, with fingers and a thumb-like appendage. Once back in the water, however, the ichthyosaur developed a form built for speed, similar to today's tuna, with elongated snout, sleek body and powerful propulsive flippers. It retained the need to breath air, like today's cetaceans, but as it became more adapted to life in the water (like today's cetaceans it was a deep diver) it lost the ability to return to land to lay eggs, and became viviparous, producing young through live birth in shallow waters (also like today's cetaceans). There were several species of ichthyosaur, but this example, at approximately 8 ½ feet in length, is amongst the largest for its genus, and is beautifully presented in a plaque of Holzmaden shale measuring 120 x 49 inches. A truly world-class fossil.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2008
    20th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 12,022

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

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