A theft from all of us

Kent Green aptly summarized the contempt we should all feel about the theft of a pristine fossilized dinosaur track near Moab.

“One hundred ninety million years old and it’s gone in an instant,” he said.

Green, the owner of Moab Cowboy Country Off-road Adventures, discovered the theft last month and reported it to authorities. The print was there on a Monday night and gone when Green returned the next morning. Investigators think it was pried out of the rock.

Jared Ehlers, 35, of Moab has been charged with the theft. That the suspect is someone from the region is more than a disappointment. It feels like a betrayal. The track hasn’t been recovered.

Part of the allure of living in western Colorado and eastern Utah is the timeless quality of the land. When we’re out among the red rock canyons, we can sense the enormity of geologic time. Fossil evidence contextualizes mankind’s nascent dominion of the planet. Stonehenge may as well have been built yesterday when compared to the reign of the dinosaurs.

The three-toed track belonged to a therapod, or meat-eater. It was located along Hell’s Revenge, one of the slickrock trails in the Sand Flats Recreational Area.

To give a sense of perspective, it was already a fossil when Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed the area. In fact, we’re closer in time to T. Rex than T. Rex was to the creature who left a print in the mud during the Jurassic period.

It was priceless.

In a perfect world, fossils, tracks and petroglyphs wouldn’t need statutory protection because we would all recognize the inherent value of such wonders.

Then something like this happens and we’re reminded that there’s no honor among thieves. It goes without saying that we hope federal authorities will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

We admire how Moab came together as a community and pooled resources to create a $7,000 reward. And we share in the community’s loss. As Green said, it was a theft “from all of us.”


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