Mammoth skeleton sets auction record

At sale of paleontological curiosities through Christie's auction house set a dozen world records for prices, including $421.200 for a skeleton of a mammoth.

If you were looking for the skeleton of a prehistoric mammoth, Monday wasn't your day to buy. Christie's auction house sold one for $421,200 US— a world record.

The Siberian mammoth from the Upper Pleistocene epoch, dubbed the "The President," was the star item at the auction. At nearlyfour metres tall andfive metres long, it had been estimated to sell for about $199,000.

The unidentified buyer was a European who collects contemporary art and 19th century furniture, Christie's spokeswoman Capucine Milliot said, adding that the last such item sold at auction, last year in Paris, went for $254,340.

Price records smashed

The mammoth sale was one of a dozen world records set during Monday's auction of paleontological curiosities that brought in a total of more than $1.53 million, Christie's said.

The 10,000-year-old skeletonof afour-metre-long rhinocerossold for a record $162,000. That of a 2.3-metre-highprehistoric cave bear from the Russian Urals sold for $63,180.

The skeletons previously were owned by private collectors. Most were bought by individuals, although a German museum and a French museum— neither identified— purchased fossils for smaller sums, Milliot said.

Among other items sold was a bezoar, a sort of pearl formed in the stomach of some herbivores, made of a stone or hair covered by a layer of calcium phosphate. Bezoars that reach or exceed the size of an egg become tremendously valuable. This one went for $45,360.

The molar of a Siberian mammoth sold for $6,480.