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    Stenopterygius guadriseissus
    Posidonienschiefer Formation, Holzmaden, Germany

    This is a superb example of the great aquatic reptile so popular amongst fossil collectors, somewhat bijou in size, but with truly exceptional preservation. This can be seen immediately on inspection of the rows of perfectly delineated teeth still with good enamel coverage, in the texture and detail of the rostrum, head and bony sclerotic ring (which supported its non-spherical eyeball, proportionately the largest of any animal ever to have lived), and in the separate, gradually diminishing bones of the paddle-like flippers. The texture of the bone surface can be seen perfectly throughout and the skeleton shows a fantastic lack of distortion or bone displacement. The areas apparently lacking in the dorsal and caudal (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 suggesting 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 an elongated snout, sleek body and powerful propulsive flippers. It retained the need to breath air, like today's cetaceans, but also like them was a deep diver; as it became more adapted to life in the water, however, it lost the ability to return to land to lay eggs and became viviparous, producing young through live birth in shallow waters (also like the cetaceans). This first-class specimen measures 35 inches in length and is presented in a plaque of the characteristic gray Holzmaden shale, measuring 61 x 35½ inches, further enlivened by the presence of over 20 of the local ammonites, each displaying a similarly finely-detailed state of preservation and preparation, the largest of which measures 3½ inches across.

    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, 2009
    18th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,994

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

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