Undersea treasure: 200-million-year-old ‘Lazarus’ fish up for auction

By Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
·2-min read

An ancient undersea treasure is expected to fetch up to £50,000 when it goes under the hammer next month.

Once believed to have been extinct for almost 70 million years, scientists were stunned when a coelacanth fish was discovered at an open-air market in South Africa in 1938.

Live specimens of the creature were later found, leading the species to be classified as a Lazarus taxon due to its miraculous rediscovery.

Evolution Sale at Summers Place Auctions
The very rare coelacanth fossil is expected to sell for between £30,000 and £50,000 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Now a rare 200-million-year-old fossil of a coelacanth is to be auctioned off at Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst, West Sussex.

The ancient artefact comes from fossil grounds around Solnhofen in Germany where many well-preserved creatures have been found.

Auction house director Rupert van der Werff said: “We are really proud to be able to offer a Coelacanth Painten in our Evolution sale this year for the first time.

“They so rarely are uncovered and it is even more rare that they come up for sale.

“This is a particularly fine example as it is clearly showing all the features of coelacanths – the rather limb-like structure of the fins makes you understand how the evolution from fishes to amphibians could have started.”

The coelacanth will go on sale alongside items including dinosaur eggs and fossils preserved in amber.

Evolution Sale at Summers Place Auctions
A rare giant Japanese spider crab, estimated to fetch £8,000-£12,000, is moved into the sale room at Summers Place Auctions in West Sussex (Gareth Fuller/PA)

If the Jurassic period does not appeal to potential bidders, they could instead consider a woolly rhinoceros skull which is at least 10,000 years old.

The 31in (78cm) skull is expected to sell for between £4,000 and £6,000, while a mammoth tusk weighing a hefty 119lb (54kg) is expected to fetch up to £18,000.

The auction will take place on November 24 and more information can be found at https://www.summersplaceauctions.com/