In the world of collectables, there is arguably nothing more exciting than the discovery and acquisition of something very old and very rare.
English Auctioneer James Rylands, who is married to Bermudian Jen Cox, has been successful on both counts. In the art and antiquities business for three decades, his latest find is undoubtedly his most important.
“We have a dinosaur — a diplodocus,” says Rylands, who has always loved fossils and has sold everything from Siberian cave bears, to Mammoth tusks — and now a wonderful dinosaur named ‘Misty’.
While famed paleontologist Raimund Albersdoerfer was excavating a well-known dinosaur site in Wyoming, his children announced that they too would like a crack at archeological digs. He directed them to what he thought was an inconsequential site until several hours later the children came back with reports of something quite profound: bones too heavy for them to carry.
Amazed at their improbable find and wondering what else might be there, Albersdoerfer named the area ‘Mystery Quarry’ and the dinosaur found there, ‘Mystery’ or ‘Misty’ for short. Diplodocus lived 150 million years ago and was the largest creature to ever walk the earth. It is easily recognizable by the public because of its long neck and tail. Measuring 115 ft with four sturdy legs, it was gargantuan.
What makes Misty so special? “It’s 40% intact; bearing in mind that if a dino has 60% of its original material, it is deemed complete. The reason the vast majority are so incomplete is that corpses were often scavenged by other dinos. Also, many dinos died in swamps which later became riverbeds and bones were washed away,” says Rylands.
Full-sized dinosaur skeletons are very rare. “To put it into perspective,” Rylands adds, “the Diplodocus in London’s Natural History Museum is a plaster copy donated by Andrew Carnegie; He donated a composite diplo skeleton made up of two different dinos to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. He then had six plastercasts made which he gave to various museums around the world. If you Google Diplodocus, you will see a list of museums around the world, the majority of which have replicas.”
But Rylands has an original.
Although one of the most massive creatures to have ever roamed our earth, the diplodocus was a vegetarian and never quite gained the cache of its famous carnivorous cousin, Tyrannosauros rex. That might explain why the best preserved T-Rex sold for an astounding $7.6 million in 1997.
“T-Rex will always be the king,” says Rylands, “…he is everyone’s idea of THE dinosaur mainly because of his reputation as a ferocious carnivore. Obviously this reputation was enhanced by the movie Jurassic Park.”
Misty will go on sale on November 27 at Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex, England. “She” is expected to attract bids upwards of a million dollars.
The question is, who will buy her? “It’s probably going to be someone over in the emerging countries of the Far East where they are creating new museums… a shopping mall is also a big possibility,” says Rylands, “If it was bought by a private individual for his house, I’d be delighted!”