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    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.

    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
    October, 2013
    19th-20th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,112

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