A rare dodo skeleton
This rare dodo skeleton was sold at Summers Place Auctions.

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Summers Place Auctions in Sussex sold the extinct avian species at its Evolution auction, the fourth in its series of sales.

It was hammered down at £280,000 to a private collector over the phone, a sum that is well below the auctioneers’ estimate of £500,000. The auctioneer said there were two interested parties bidding on the phone.

Believed to be the first composite skeleton pieced together since the early 20th century, it is 95 per cent complete and only missing a part of the skull and one set of claws. The missing parts have been reconstructed in resin.

The bones of the flightless bird were being sold by a private collector who gathered the pieces over four decades until he had enough to create an almost complete skeleton. The pieces had originally been sold at auction during the 19th century.

Bones discovered in Mauritius – where the dodo lived – are now banned from export so only those found before the 20th century are available to be bought and sold.

There are about 12 similarly complete skeletons in existence and they are all in museums around the world and only one in existence that is made up of the bones of a single animal.

Buyer’s premium is 25%/20%/12%.