An incredibly rare skeleton of a dodo that has been painstakingly reassembled over decades is to be sold at auction for the first time.
The flightless bird, which was first discovered in Mauritius in the 1500s, has become an icon of extinction after it was wiped out by human action.
The 350-year-old bones make up one of the most complete dodo skeletons in the world, at 95 per cent complete, and could fetch £500,000 ($660,000).
All the other mostly complete examples are in museums and institutions with this one being the only complete skeleton in private hands and the first to ever go up for auction.
The extinct bird will be sold by Summers Place Auctions in Billingshurst, West Sussex, who say it is a bit of an unknown entity because it is such a rare item.
The owner, a private collector, has been gathering bones from private collections and auctions for more than 40 years and realised he had enough to construct the famous flightless bird in the early 2000s.
He started collecting in the 1970s and meticulously reassembled the pieces, like the world’s oldest and most complex jigsaw.
The skeleton is only missing a part of the skull and one set of claws, which have been reconstructed in resin.
A lot of the other known skeletons lack smaller bones like toes, claws, and the rare wing elements, and the incredibly fragile sternum is rarely intact – but this skeleton has all those elements.
The owner has decided to sell it, making it the first composite skeleton ever to be sold at auction and it is highly unlikely another will ever come up again as the Mauritian Government has banned the export of all Dodo bones.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ryan O’Hare