At first look it appears as though this artefact was part of some statue from roman times. But in fact it was not the work of some ancient artist - rather it came from outer space. It is an iron meteorite, an an incredibly rare one at that. The matchless specimen was found in 1992 by indigenous tribesmen in Namibia's Kalahari with the aid of a metal detector.
© Heritage Auctions
The eyes have it: The two holes in the meteorite make it extremely rare - and give it the appearance of an owl
Part of the The Macovich Collection in New York City, it is going up for sale on Sunday at the Natural History Signature Meteorite Auction. It is estimated to fetch between £85,000 and £100,000. The auction website said: 'It is extremely rare for meteorites to have naturally formed holes, and rarer still when the holes are positioned in the matrix in such a way as to yield a magnificent aesthetic specimen-let alone the highly zoomorphic example seen here.
'Defined by the two adjacent hollows that perforate its mass and separated by perfectly sculpted ridges, there is an exquisite asymmetric balance between this meteorite's two sides: the outward flanging of one side is offset by the larger hollow and more prominent opposing crest.'
Experts say that the moment of extraction from beneath the Earth's surface was crucial to its unique form. If removed several hundred years earlier, it would not have been perfectly zoomorphic. If removed several hundred years later, the holes would be far too large and outsized.