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Posted for Matt Carrano.
Greetings from Washington. As a curator at the Smithsonian Institution's
National Museum of Natural History, I am writing to ask for your assistance.
Two weeks ago (November 15), we discovered that a major theft had occurred
from the exhibit halls of the NMNH. Someone had broken into five separate
railing cases and removed nine fossil mammal and reptile specimens (all
from them. These cases were not under direct camera surveillance, so we do
not have footage of the theft. I am writing because we believe that the
thieves have only two options for these fossils.
The first is to keep or hide them, in which case we are probably going to
have a hard time recovering them.
The second option is to sell them, by passing them off as their own finds or
as legitimately purchased fossils.
In the event of the latter, I am including information on our missing
specimens, in the hope that you might recognize them should they pass under
view. If you do see them, or have them offered to you, please let me know or
contact our collections manager (Jann Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org). Several of
these are important specimens, having been published and illustrated
The specimens are:
- USNM 351927, Chrysemys sp., turtle carapace
- USNM 336367, Frictops emryi, insectivore skull and skeleton
- USNM 22482, Hyrachyus affinis, tapir skull and jaws
- USNM 17161, Ischyrotomus oweni, rodent skull
- USNM 325701, Neohipparion republicans, horse rostrum with teeth
- USNM 16921, Palaeolagus haydeni, rabbit skull and jaws
- USNM 18804, Paradjidaumo trilophus, rodent skull and partial skeleton
- USNM 22479, Thinocyon velox, carnivore skull and jaws
- USNM 22478, Uintacyon juglans, carnivore skeleton (anterior portion on
Finally, at this time the theft is being investigated by the FBI, and they
have requested that we confine our communications on this matter to colleagues
and refrain from speaking to the media or other public outlets.
If I can provide you with any additional information that might be helpful,
or if you have suggestions for others in the paleontological community that I
might contact, please let me know. Thank you for your time and kind
attention to this unsolicited request.
with kind regards,