DEATH VALLEY, California — These thieves have the weight of history bearing down on them.
Park rangers are hunting for the craven criminals who made off with ancient fossil footprints that have been removed from Death valley National Park.
Scientists who regularly visit the area to photograph the mammal and bird tracks — which date back 3 million-to-5 million year when the desert area was a muddy lake shore — noticed that some had recently been taken.
The rangers are searching for a group of backpackers who were photographed in the area around the time the tracks went missing, to see if they may have witnessed anything that will lead to the culprits.
“It’s illegal to collect fossils, rocks, or anything else in National Parks,” said Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “The purpose of National Parks is to conserve the landscape and everything it contains for the next generation.”
Investigators are offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to those responsible.