Dinosaur fossils for sale seized in Mexico

January 24th, 2009 - 9:44 am ICT by IANS  

Monterrey (Mexico), Jan 24 (EFE) Mexican authorities have said that they recovered 389 fossils, including the remains of dinosaurs and trilobites hundreds of millions of years old, that were illegally being offered for sale at an antiquities store in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.The director of the Monterrey office of the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH), Hector Jaime TreviƱo, as well as Joaquin Garcia-Barcenas, the president of the INAH Paleontologists Council, said that this is the most important confiscation to date in Mexico that includes unique fossils.

They emphasised that no museum in Mexico has more than 200 pieces of this kind and this collection contains almost double that number, a group that should be sufficient to mount two simultaneous exhibits.

Both officials said that the pieces were recovered in an operation in 2006 by the Attorney General’s (AG) Office from a shop in the Monterrey suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia.

They said that the work of registering, cataloguing and authentificating the pieces had taken three years and was only being publicly announced Thursday.

The case began in 2005, when an individual asked INAH for information about the authenticity of a fossil more than 350 million years old he had bought at the store near Monterrey.

INAH experts confirmed that the fossils were authentic and complained to the AG’s office about the illegal selling of the ancient items.

Among the pieces confiscated were remains of mammoths, camels, early horses, sharks, mastodons, various dinosaurs, ammonites (giant marine molluscs that lived about 100 million years ago) and trilobites, which were large underwater pillbug-like creatures that were one of the planet’s dominant life forms 350 million years ago.

Also among the pieces are fossils of fish, pieces of amber and other rare items.

Paleontologist Garcia-Barcena said that the fossils provided much-needed information about climatic and evolutionary changes in the region, adding that “for example, it was determined that there was an ocean where today there are plains”.

INAH announced that it will send an exhibition of the trove of fossils around the country so that the public can view the items.

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