Fossilized walrus baculum fetches $8,000
August 26, 2007
A 4 1/2-foot-long, fossilized penis bone from an extinct walrus sold for $8,000 Sunday at an auction in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The item was sold to the company that runs the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums. The price will run $9,600 when auction fees are included.
“Their corporate office bought it and they’ll probably display it around the country,” said Josh Chait, director of operations for the I.M. Chait Gallery, his family’s auction house.
There were only three bidders and the contest lasted only a couple of minutes, Chait said.
The final price was well below the $12,000 to $16,000 the item had been expected to bring.
“I thought it was a bargain,” Chait said.
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Discovered in Siberia, the fossilized baculum, or penis bone, is from a species of walrus that went extinct 12,000 years ago. The piece curves to a point and is covered with weathered skin and dry muscle tissue.
The auction house said it was believed to be the largest known mammal penis fossil.
“I’m glad it’s going to a museum and not a private collection” so it can on public display, Chait said. “It’s definitely something everyone should see once in their life.”
While unusual fossils are prized by collectors, a fossilized baculum might have been a little too special to attract many bidders.
“Only a limited number of people really want it,” Chait acknowledged.
He admits he isn’t one of them.
“I appreciate its … historical significance,” he said. “But I wouldn’t have it over my mantel.”