Reward offered to hunt the thief who stole traces of Triassic-era reptiles from Capitol Reef National Park

A 250-million-year-old wedge of fossil record was stolen from Capitol Reef National Park in Utah five years ago and the National Park Service (NPS) wants it back. The fossil footprints were made by a Triassic-era reptile and a $ 1,000 reward is up for grabs to anyone who can help the NPS track down the paleontological artifact and bring the thief (s) to justice.

The fossil footprints are believed to have been hacked from a trail in Capitol Reef National Park between 2017 and 2018. The discovery of the theft came after a paleontologist commented on the photos posted on the Capitol National Park Fossil Facebook page. Reef.

“One visitor commented [the post] and they said they had noticed that something was missing from that track, “park interpretation chief Shauna Cotrell told KSL.” It came from a visitor who is a paleontologist and was familiar with the site.

The well-preserved tracks, known as “finger rubs,” are positive relief casts from track depressions in the muddy stone below that later filled with fine sand, reports the Charlotte Observer. Their theft, while disappointing, represents just one of countless cases of theft that occur in national parks each year, despite pleas from officials to “leave no trace” on excursions that house deposits so rich in natural history.

While pocketing unclaimed souvenirs in the wild might seem like a small act, removing artifacts from their authentic final resting place has a catastrophic effect on their scientific value. This is why national parks fall under legal safeguards that prohibit people from taking things off the ground, but the threat of hefty fines and even jail time isn’t always enough to stop people in the act.

The “remorseful tweaks” from visitors who stole from national parks only to regret seeing the emergence of “piles of conscience” and even museums as NPS sites find themselves with stolen items that cannot be returned to their rightful place. This has been a particularly widespread problem for Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park (PFNP), where petrified wood is routinely stolen.

As for the fossil footprints from the Triassic era, the NPS is asking for suggestions – anonymous or otherwise – to help them track down the stolen fossil, with a $ 1,000 reward on the cards in case the perpetrators are identified and prosecuted.

“Vandalism hurts,” the NPS wrote in a statement about the theft. “Some of the oldest and most extensive reptile tracks in the western United States are found within Capitol Reef National Park. Fossils preserve records of life on earth and are extremely rare ”.

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