Dinosaur Tracks Vandalised – Plaster Casts Attempted
We have picked up a number of reports from the United States that several dinosaur tracks have been vandalised at the Manti-La Sal National Forest, a national park managed by the United States Forestry Service. Manti-La Sal National Forest straddles the State border between Utah and Colorado and a number of important vertebrate fossils including dinosaur bones and tracks are located within the 1.4 million acre park. It is illegal to collect or make duplicates of any vertebrate fossils, including trace fossils from lands managed by the U.S. Forestry Service without the correct permits. Permits are normally only issued to qualified palaeontologists and those parties involved in federally approved research.
A spokesperson from the Manti-La Sal National Forest, explained that three-toed dinosaur tracks in the Moab (Utah), area had been vandalised and a number of suspects identified. As we at Everything Dinosaur understand the situation, no arrests have been made yet.
This part of Utah is famous for its amazing dinosaur fossils. Sadly, Everything Dinosaur team members have reported on numerous occasions deliberate damage being caused to fossil sites, or the theft of dinosaur bones and tracks. With private collectors prepared to pay large sums of money for dinosaur fossils, there is a big black market in illegally acquired artefacts. Last year we reported on the theft of a dinosaur footprint from a Bureau of Land Management managed site, not too far away from this incident. A local man (Jared Ehlers) was arrested and sentenced to six months house arrest, fined and given an additional one year probation sentence. Mr Ehlers claimed he had stolen the footprint as he wanted to make a coffee table out of it. The stolen footprint has not been recovered.
In this latest incident, although no footprints were actually taken, the plaster poured into the footprint impressions will have caused some damage to these important trace fossils. The dinosaur tracks, probably made by a large, carnivore, have been preserved in hyporelief (depressions), such tracks are relatively rare and the Utah specimens are of exceptional quality, the consistency of the sediment at the time the dinosaur walked on it was just right to permit an accurate footprint impression to be created. Palaeontologists can use these footprints to explore Theropod locomotion by calculating the way the foot moves as it contacts and leaves the sediment surface. Although the plaster can be carefully removed and the footprints cleaned, subtle details related to the dinosaur’s locomotion will be probably obliterated.
Everything Dinosaur would like to take this opportunity to advise readers that no collection permits for any type of fossil (plants, invertebrates, vertebrates or trace fossils), are issued by the U.S. Forestry Service for commercial purposes. The selling, trading or bartering of any fossil material from National Forest System Lands is strictly prohibited.