A nearly 40-million-year-old skeleton belonging to what is popularly called a “sabre-toothed tiger” is going under the hammer next week in Geneva, a year after its discovery on a US ranch.
The skeleton, some 120cm long, is expected to fetch between 60,000 and 80,000 Swiss francs ($66,560 and $88,750) at auction on December 8 in the Swiss city.
Piguet auction house director Bernard Piguet on December 1 said: “This fossil is exceptional, above all for its conservation – it’s 37 million years old, and it’s 90 per cent complete.
“The few missing bones were remade with a 3D printer,” he added, with the skeleton reconstructed around a black metal frame.
Piguet said he was fascinated by the merger of “the extremely old with modern technologies”.
The original bones are those of a Hoplophoneus. Not strictly a true member of the cat family, they are an extinct genus of the Nimravidae family and stalked around North America.
Such extinct predatory mammals are commonly called sabre-toothed tigers.
Swiss collector Yann Cuenin, who owns the dozens of palaeontology lots on auction, said: “It was found in South Dakota during the last excavation season, towards the end of summer 2019.”
Jurassic Park enthusiasts can also buy a Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth for 2,200-2,800 francs), or, for 5,000-7,000 francs, an impressive 85cm-long fin from a mosasaur – a marine reptile that in the Cretaceous period was at the top of the submarine food chain.