State Officials Go Diving for a Stolen Dinosaur Footprint

Back on February 22nd, Everything Dinosaur reported on the shocking theft of a three-toed dinosaur footprint that had been stolen from an adventure trail called Hell’s Revenge close to the town of Moab in Grand County (eastern Utah).

The Bureau of Land Management, responsible for the management of the site had said in a statement that the theft of such objects was becoming all too commonplace and an appeal went out to help try to locate the missing theropod dinosaur footprint.

To read the article about the theft: Dinosaur Footprint Stolen in Utah.

We are pleased to say that there have been a number of developments in the case, which might lead to the footprint fossil being recovered.  Over the weekend, officials from the State, organised a dive team to explore an area of river bed downstream of the Dewey Bridge over the Colorado River.  Unfortunately, the divers were unable to locate the missing fossil.

Dinosaur Footprint

Their efforts were hampered by the very poor visibility and the fact that unfortunately, that part of the Colorado river has a very rocky riverbed.  It’s not the easiest of tasks groping around in near zero visibility looking for a rock amongst many hundreds of other rocks.

According to a statement from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, investigators had identified a suspect but this person’s name was not being released for the moment.  The area of river bed immediately below and just downstream of Dewey Bridge on State Road 128 is being explored as this is where the print is believed to have been dumped.

The dinosaur track which measures around twenty-five centimetres in length is thought to have been stolen sometime around the 17th or 18th of February.  No explanation for the reason for the robbery has been given, but it is known that dinosaur fossils such as this single foot print may fetch very high prices on the black market.

A Reward Offered

The Bureau of Land Management offered a reward for information leading to the identification of the culprit or culprits, other parties such as a group of off-road enthusiasts that use the Hell’s Revenge trail also chipped in and the various rewards offered now total somewhere in the region of $9,000 USD (£5,400 GBP).

Commenting on the loss of the 190-million-year-old theropod footprint, Rebecca Hunt-Foster, a palaeontologist for the Bureau of Land Management stated that this specimen was one of the nicest tracks in the area and that the three-toed print was most probably made by a large, meat-eating dinosaur – a likely ancestor of the Utah State Dinosaur, the Allosaurus.

Locals are incensed about the loss of this fossil.  The area is known for its dinosaur tracks and many visitors to the area come up to the Hell’s Revenge trail to view the evidence of dinosaurs preserved in what is now sandstone, but was once a sandy shoreline next to an early Jurassic lake.

A Picture of the Fearsome Late Jurassic Predator Allosaurus (A. fragilis)

Allosaurus attacks
Allosaurus attacks.

Picture credit: Everything Dinosaur

Team members at Everything Dinosaur wish the Utah State authorities well in their search for the fossil and hopefully this rare and very important dinosaur fossil will be found soon.

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