National Park Service searching for ‘irreplaceable’ fossils stolen years ago

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The U.S. National Park Service is investigating after fossils were stolen from the Capitol Reef National Park several years ago. U.S. Park Rangers said the fossils, which are of reptile tracks dating from the Triassic period, are “irreplaceable.”

Authorities believe they were removed from a park trackway between August 2017 and August 2018. Rangers are asking that anyone with information come forward.

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Sometime between August 2017 and August 2018, trace reptile track fossils dating from the Triassic period were removed from a trackway within the park. (NPS)

“Vandalism hurts,” the Park Service said in a release Tuesday. “Some of the oldest and most extensive reptile tracks in the western United States are found within Capitol Reef National Park. Fossils preserve the record of life on earth and are exceedingly rare.”

The Park Service did not say when the fossils were first discovered missing and have not responded to CBS News’ request for comment.

Rangers are offering up to $1,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the “identification and prosecution” of the people responsible for the the vandalism and theft. People can submit tips online at go.nps.gov/SubmitATip or through the 888-653-0009 tip line.

“Information from other visitors is often very helpful to investigators,” the Park Service said. “If you have information that could help recover the stolen fossils or that could help identify those responsible, the park asks you to please submit a tip.”

The Capitol Reef National Park encompasses almost 100 miles in south-central Utah, according to the National Park Service website.

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