These skeletons are currently owned by a private collector, but buyers could include museums or artists, Christie's said.

 

The auction is not to all paleontologists’ liking.

 

Pascal Tassy, professor at Paris' Natural History Museum, decries the selling-off of specimens that could be useful to science.

 "It is a pernicious consequence of the Jurassic Park effect," he said. "We are in a liberal system, in which everything can be sold.

 

"In the past, private collectors donated to museums, it was a great time of patronage; nowadays we make money off anything," he said.

 

The meteorite containing semi-precious stones and showing rare traces of its entry into the atmosphere is valued at between $122,000 and $162,000.

 

An unhatched dinosaur egg and a wide collection of fossils - some of them 400 million years old - will also be up for auction.

 

Bezoar

 

Among the curiosities is the bezoar valued at $34,000. Made of stone or hair covered by a layer of calcium phosphate, bezoars that reach or exceed the size of an egg become tremendously valuable. 

 

In JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, bezoars are used as a cure for poison.

 

In earlier times, according to some historians, princes of Habsburg used them to treat depression.

 

France's Cardinal de Richelieu wrote in a 1661 letter to a friend: "I also thank you for your good bezoar that came just at the right moment to pull me through a quite distressing illness."