Sabre-toothed cat to go on sale at Sussex auction

Freya being dismantled at the zoo SUS-160106-144639001
Freya being dismantled at the zoo SUS-160106-144639001

A sabre-toothed cat and a duck-billed dinosaur are among items being sold at a Sussex auction next week.

They are among a museum collection from a Dutch zoo that will go under the hammer at Summers Place Auctions, Billingshurst, on Tuesday (June 7).

The museum collection was formed during the 1980s and early 1990s and has some remarkable specimens, some of which can no longer be bought outside their country of origin.

There will be 180 lots with estimates ranging from £30 to £80,000. Auctions specialist Rupert van der Werff said: “Owing to the relocation of the zoo this collection will be offered on a no reserve basis so there may be a chance to secure something truly significant for a bargain price.”

One of the highlights is undoubtedly a duck-billed dinosaur, Harpocrasaurus stibengi, called “Freya”. It is almost as big as a T-Rex and lived 75 to 67 million years ago. It is around 7.5m long and 3 m high and would have weighed about 4 tonnes.

It was a bipedal/quadrupedal herbivore and is virtually complete. Freya is estimated to sell in the region of £50,000 – £80,000.

There is also a Hoplophoneus, a sabre-toothed cat, included – part of an extinct group of predatory mammals that were characterized by their long, curved sabre-shaped canine teeth. These large teeth extended from the mouth even when it was closed and the animals were found worldwide from the Eocene epoch to the end of the Pleistocene epoch 11,000 years ago. This example is estimated to be sold for between £6,000 – £10,000.

Also on sale are some extremely rare bird fossils showing the transition between reptiles and modern birds from various locations around the world, expected to sell for £2,000 - 3,000.

The collection is from the Emmen Zoo in Holland which was originally founded in 1935. As its needs evolved it has gone through several expansion programmes, notably in the 1970s and most recently with the move to a new Wildlands centre which opened this March. Sadly the museum no longer fitted in with the new aims of the centre.

The sale will be on view from Sunday June 5 until the morning of the auction or by arrangement.