Theft in the Paleontological Museum of Cuernavaca

More than 20 paleontological items – some of them over 3 billion years old – were stolen on Monday from the Museum
Meteorite rock, one of the eight meteorites stolen from the Museum – Photo courtesy of MUSEO DE ACERVO PALEONTOLÓGICO
11/10/2017
12:00
Abida Ventura
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More than 20 paleontological items – some of them over 3 billion years old – were stolen on Monday from the Paleontological Heritage Museum in Cuernavaca, Morelos, which houses since 2000 a rich collection of fossils found in deposits in Mexico and from all over the world.

According to the founder and director of the Museum, Roberto Malvido, the theft happened during the early hours of October 9. To access the Museum, the thieves broke the built-in locks of the doors and padlocks, despite these were reinforced and were connected to a security alarm. That night, the thieves didn't trigger the alarm.

Once inside, “evidence shows they chose the pieces they wanted to steal,” reads the report which was filed yesterday before the Prosecutor's Office of the state of Morelos.

Among the missing items are three blue-green algae from Australia – estimated to be 3.22 billion years old – which are amongst the oldest fossils in the world.

The stolen items also include eight metal meteorites, including Meteorite Allende; six tektites, and two Ediacaran fossils from the Precambrian Era – close to 800 million years old.

“It took me 35 years to acquire the items from different parts of the world; recovering them will be incredibly hard,” said Roberto Malvido to EL UNIVERSAL.

The Museum's collection, which in 2013 received the national acknowledgment of Nature Preservation granted by the Ministry of the Environment and Natual Resources, is comprised by 900 fossils in display cases with audiovisual material which allows to rebuild the geological history and the evolution of our planet until the first men walked the Earth.

The skull of the Taung Child found in South Africa in 1924, a fossilized fish eating a smaller one, and two mammoth tusks were also stolen.

According to Malvido, it's possible some of the fossils in the warehouse of the Museum were also stolen, but Museum staff hasn't been able to check the inventory.

While the collection is registered before the Geology Institute of the National Autonomous University (UNAM), the pricless specimens were not insured.

“Until three years ago, schools made field trips to the Museum, but due to the insecuirty, children are not allowed to go outside schools anymore...we receive groups and visitors when booked in advance,” said Malvido.

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