An extraordinarily rare Martian meteorite – the first meteorite from Mars to impact our planet since 1962, will be the headliner in a May 6 Natural History auction at I.M. Chait Gallery. This world-class, museum-standard specimen from the most significant meteorite fall for generations weighs approximately 298 grams and measures 76 x 69 x 50 millimeters, and is expected to make $200,000-$300,000 at auction.
Also known as Tissint Meteorite, this unique specimen landed in Morocco’s Oued Drâa valley in the early hours of July 2011 after a million-year journey from the Red Planet. A couple of eyewitnesses claim that they observed a bright fireball in the sky, yellow in color at first, and then turning a bright green before splitting into two parts as two loud sonic booms were heard. Once research began on these samples, it was discovered, amid much excitement, that they had originated on Mars.
Less than 0.1% of all known meteorites are recorded as Martian in origin, and since this was the first Martian meteorite fall to be observed since 1962, it is most likely the only such fall that will be observed in most current earth inhabitants’ lifetimes, said Chait’s natural history director, Jake Chait.
What really makes this Meteorite so significant, is the fact that it has been on our planet for only a few months – as opposed to any other meteorites that lay undiscovered for years – in some cases, thousands of years. Tissint Meteorite doesn’t have any contamination, like earth’s soil, water or bacteria, and therefore is a very fresh and valuable resource for the study of its home planet’s geology. The entire Tissint fall is thought to comprise little more than 10kg of material, of which the Natural History Museum of London holds a specimen weighing 1.1kg, considered to be one of the most significant specimens in their world-renowned meteorite collection and the most important meteorite of the last 100 years.
Other rare specimens to be auctioned in a May 6 Natural History auction at I.M. Chait Gallery, and that are worth mentioning:
- Triceratops baby skull (10-12 years old) triceratops found at the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, estimate $60,000-$80,000
- Jointed leg from a fearsome Tarbosaurus bataar (Tyrannosaurus), estimate $20,000-$25,000
- Fossilized skull of a creature now known as an Ankylosaurid but originally thought to have been a dragon, estimate $30,000-$40,000
- Complete dinosaur skeleton measuring 39 inches long (fully articulated skeleton of a Psittacosaurus, a primitive member of the Ceratopsia, or horned dinosaurs), estimate $10,000-$12,000
Upcoming Chait’s sale includes the only fossil of an Indarctos zdanskyi (predecessor to the panda) ever to be offered at auction. The 16-inch-long panda skull is around 2 million years old. Like the dragon in the auction, it was found in central Asia. Mounted with jaws agape, the skull displays outstanding three-dimensionality, fine bone texture and coloration. Estimate: $65,000-$80,000. [I.M. Chait]