Fossils cut from stone and stolen from Capitol Reef National Park

May 11, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:27 pm

fossils vandalism capitol reef...

Image of trace reptile track fossils that were removed from a trackway within Capitol Reef National Park sometime between August 2017 and August 2018. Photo credit: National Park Service.

TORREY, Utah — The National Park Service is offering a reward for information about fossils stolen from Capitol Reef National Park.

The fossils were stolen from Capitol Reef National Park sometime between August 2017 and August 2018. The agency said the missing items are trace reptile track fossils that were removed from a trackway in Capitol Reef National Park.

The search began after the park posted a photo of the fossils on the park’s Facebook page.

“A visitor commented on [the post] and said they had noticed something was missing from that trackway,” Shauna Cotrell, the park’s acting chief of interpretation, told “It came from a visitor who is a paleontologist and was familiar with the site.”

The American Geosciences Institute defines trace fossils as “tracks, trails, burrows, feeding marks, and resting marks.” 

The Park Service is offering up to $1,000 for information that leads to the prosecution of those responsible for the theft and vandalism.  They said that information from other visitors can be very helpful to investigators.

You can remain anonymous, the Park Service said. 

“Some of the oldest and most extensive reptile tracks in the western United States are found within Capitol Reef National Park,” the National Park Service said in a press release. “Fossils preserve the record of life on earth and are exceedingly rare.”

The fossils date back to the Triassic period, which paleontologists say was roughly 230 million years ago.

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Fossils cut from stone and stolen from Capitol Reef National Park