Sunday, February 26, 2006

Argentinian Fossils Seized From Tucson Gem Show

From the Free New Mexican:

Federal agents seized three fossil dinosaur eggs, each the size of a small watermelon, and some 14,000 lbs of other fossils during the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase this month after authorities determined the cache may have been smuggled illegally out of Argentina.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents began investigating after receiving a tip from Interpol suggesting that an exhibitor, the Rhodo Co., may have been selling fossils belonging to the Argentine government.

The company's Web site bills it as a supplier of Argentinean rhodocrosite, a pink mineral often used in jewelry, decorative bowls and other items. Customs agents acting undercover took digital photos of the fossils and conferred with paleontologists from Argentina. Interpol said the fossils probably came from Argentina and had significant scientific value.

No arrests have been made, Customs Supervisory Special Agent Lisa Fairchild said.