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pilfered paleo. in Russia



>A number of specimens of  temnospondyl amphibians, mostly Benthosuchis
>shshkini,and Thoosuchus sp. were stolen last year from display cabinets in
>the Paleontological Institute Moscow. Most of these were superb, 3D,
>perfect, acid prepared skulls from the "world heritage" locality near
>Tikhvinskoye on the Volga. Interpol is involved in trying to recover the
>specimens but so far only one has been located. The site itself is also
>being decimated by collectors. The Russians are trying to work out a way to
>protect the site but as yet have no legal means of doing so, at least as
>far as I could understand the situation.

I have heard rumors that some of the fossils of the Paleontological
Institute of Moscow are disappearing from "inside jobs" (i.e., museum staff
selling them to collectors on the black market).  For the taxa of my
personal interest the danger at the moment is not terribly great, since the
vast majority of their best dinosaurs are on tour.  However, there is all
the non-mounted specimens to worry about, as well as such things as
amphibians and mammals which are not on the mostly-therapsid and dinosaur
touring exhibit.

Let us hope that Interpol does it job in this case.
                                     
Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist in Exile
U.S. Geological Survey
Branch of Paleontology & Stratigraphy
MS 970 National Center
Reston, VA  22092

email:  tholtz@geochange.er.usgs.gov 
Phone:  703-648-5280
FAX:            703-648-5420