Plesiosaur skeleton – £34,000 at Summers Place Auctions.

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The November 19 sale was led by a 10ft (3.13m) long plesiosaur uncovered near Peterborough decades ago. Now cleaned and 60% complete, it is one of only three Cryptoclidus plesiosaur skeletons known in Britain.

It will remain in the country, a private English collector having won a phone bidding battle with a midestimate bid of £34,000.

Sabre-tooth tigers share almost equal billing among prehistoric fauna.

The Billingshurst bidders had to be content with a much earlier, and smaller, version, a 4ft (1.2m) long sabre-tooth cat (probably Hoplophoneus primaevus) from about 34 million years ago. It went above estimate at £20,000 to an Australian, one of the many international bidders taking part.

Also selling at £20,000, but doubling the estimate, was a 4ft (1.2m) fossilised skeleton of a mesophippus, a forerunner of the horse roaming North America 30-40 million years ago, which was bought by a Scottish collector.

Flourishing taxidermy


Rosewood case of stuffed Indian birds – £8000 at Summers Place Auctions.

Nearer our own times in the world of natural history, the West Sussex sale included a collection of stuffed Indian birds.

The major appeal was the ornately mounted, 5ft 9in (1.74m) tall rosewood case made for the celebrated Victorian London taxidermist Henry Burton of Wardour Street.

Another overseas buy, it doubled the lower estimate, going to a Danish collector at £8000, reflecting the current resurgence of interest in this once overlooked 19th century craft.