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Rare US ‘sabre-toothed tiger’ skeleton put up for auction

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Director of the ‘Piguet Hotel des Ventes’ auction house Bernard Piguet poses with a rare sabre-toothed cat’s skeleton during a preview of the sale in Geneva on Tuesday. AFP

Rare US ‘sabre-toothed tiger’ skeleton put up for auction

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.

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