BILLINGSHURST, UK – A Sussex-based auction house is going to sell a 95-percent-complete composite skeleton of a dodo, the first to come up for sale since the early 20th century. It is a highlight of Summers Place Auctions’ Nov. 22 sale.
Only one dodo skeleton exists that is made up from the bones of a single animal. The others – and there are only a dozen that are relatively complete – are composites made from bones of several dodo specimens.
Errol Fuller, Summers Place Auctions’ natural history curator said: “When researching the dodo for one of my books, ‘Dodo: From Extinction to Icon,’ it became obvious that most museums had acquired their dodos many years ago, and no relatively complete skeleton has been put together since the early 20th century.”
The dodo skeleton offered in the Nov. 22 sale comes from a private collector, who over decades has purchased bones from private collections and auctions. He started collecting in the 1970s and bought the majority of dodo bones then and in the 1980s. Like most collectors, he spent years adding to his collection and it was only in the early 2000s that he realized he had enough bones (only lacking part of the skull and one set of claws – which have been reconstructed) to construct a skeleton. He then meticulously reassembled them to create as complete a specimen as possible. He has now decided to part with his dodo and make this the first composite skeleton ever made available at auction. It his highly unlikely that another composite skeleton will ever come up for auction again.
The dodo lived only on the island of Mauritius. First seen by Dutch sailors in September 1598, the dodo became extinct just 70 years or so after its discovery.
The Mauritian government has banned all exports of dodo bones.
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