Monday, June 19, 2006

Fossil crustaceans from Argentina on sale on the Internet or fossil shows


Fossil Trilobite (Hoekaspis megacantha)
This Trilobite is Ordovician time period, from Jujuy province Argentina. This one measures 102 MM and the matrix is 69 x 109 MM. It has been broken and repaired. On sale by Brent Fossil Co.On sale US$ 45.00

Fosill shrimps from Argentina sold for US$ 1925
during the 2002 Colorado Fossil Expo (9/2002), Photo by Paleocurrents.com






Fossil crabe on sale during the Colorado Fossil
Expo (9/2002).Location: Santa Cruz Formation. This huge and complete Miocene crab measures 6 inches in length, front to rear, and is 9 inches wide at the legs.
Almost all the matrix has been removed during preparation, thus exposing most of the fossil. This crab exhibits superb preservation with fine detail. Price: $1850.00 – Sold .

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Esquel pallasite meteorite


The Esquel meteorite which is a Stoney-Iron Pallasite, was first discovered embedded in the soil in 1951 by Lorenzo O. Giacomelli in Esquel,( 42º54’S, 71º20’W,) Chubut, Argentina, South America, whose weight was wrongly estimated to be 1500 kilograms (3,307 Pounds). It remained lost until 1989 when Oscar A. Turone re-found it and weighted it: 755 kg. An American meteorite specialist brought the mass out of the country in 1992. The Esquel pallasite main mass is with Robert Haag Specimens of Esquel have been “furnished” (sold?) to various universities, museums, scientific research groups, and collectors around the world. The specimen shown in the front cover of this report is a polished slice from the original pallasite exported from Patagonia since its rediscovery in 1989. The gram of part slices of gem-like pallasites as the Esquel meteorite can reach between 25 to 40 US$ per gram, some beautiful polished slices were offered at US$ 13,600 for a 455-gr. slice. (http://www.meteorites.tv)another/Another firm had a 371-gr. slice in offer for US$ 9,275 .

The Esquel pallasite is considered the most beautiful meteorite in the world


Prices of meteorites per gram
Meteorite specimens come in endless shapes and sizes. Complete slices, half slices, partial slices, end slices, end pieces, individuals, as-found individuals, half individuals, and fragments can be purchased. Final cost is determined not only by size, but by the laws of supply and demand, scientific importance, whether or not fusion crust is included, and, as in the case of certain iron meteorites, if it is etched and polished. Basically though, meteorites are sold in U.S. dollars per gram (=30 grams). Included below is a general price list of available meteorites (the names normally refer to the area of the fall). To keep things in perspective, gold currently was sold for $10 U.S. per gram at the moment of this publication. At present, a slice of a beautiful Esquel Pallasite is sold at US$ 40.00 per gram, ten dollars more expensive than few years ago, while the “Campo del Cielo” meteorites prices are near US$ 0.08/gr.
Esquel pallasite slice, from Chubut province is considered to be the most beautiful meteorite in the world.

Table No.1: Meteorites from different parts of the world: prices per gram

Allende:$10-$16/g, Guenie: $4-$9/g ,Axtell: $50/g, Holbrook:$10-$12/,Canyon Diablo: $l.70/g, Ibitira: $200-$250/g, Cat Mountain:$117/g, Kainsaz: $60/g ,Dar Al Gani 067: $50/g, La Criolla:$10/g, Dimmitt: $4-$7/g, Millbillillie: $12/g , Esquel: $20-$30/g ,Murchison: $60-$150/g, Gao $2-$7/g ,
Norton County:$30-$35/g, Gibeon: $1-$2/g, Zagami: $2000/g .

Table nº 2 : Iron meteorites from Chaco discovered and stored in Argentine and British collections #

Mesón de fierro 30,000 Kg. Unknown (probably in situ)
Chaco 33,400 Kg. In situ (crater N° 10)
El Toba 4,210 Kg. M.A.C.N., Buenos Aires
El Taco 1,998 Galileo Galilei Planetarium, (600kg)
Gancedo 1,530 Kg. Galileo Galilei Planetarium
El Mataco 998 Kg. Rosario Hist. Prov. Mus. Dr. J. Marc”, Rosario.
Otumpa ~900 Kg. British Nat. History Museum, London (634 kg)

El Tonocoté 850 Kg. Galileo Galilei Planetarium, Buenos Aires
El Mocoví 732 Kg. M.A.C.N. Buenos Aires
Charata 460 Kg. M.A.C.N., Buenos Aires
# the newly discovered (September/ 2005) meteorite, without name, is not enclosed.

Iron Meteorites


The 37 Tons. "El Chaco" meteorite, the biggest
fallen in Argentina
Campo del Cielo
In 1576 a huge meteorite fell down in Chaco (NE Argentina) # one enormous piece is on exhibition at the MACN (Buenos Aires) entrance hall, and another at the British Natural History Museum (BNHM) (London). The first one is the biggest and best known meteorite in South America and was called “El Toba” (4210Kg). It was collected in November 1923 at Estancia El Rosario, Chaco) from the proximity of Campo del Cielo (Field of the sky). “El Toba” has a short explanatory text of 200 words (30 x 40 cm), that I saw and photographed in July/2005. On its base the meteorite is highly rusted since it is placed on the Museums main entrance hall, where in wintertime, the room is highly humid as I could observe during my July visit.
The second one (634 Kilos, a fragment of the “Otumpa meteorite (900 Kilos) collected at the beginning of the 19th century in the proximity of “El Toba”, was donated to the BNHM by Sir William Parish, and its exhibition presents an enormous amount of information, metal analyses, photos, etc. In the same way that MACN authorities do not pay any attention to the most valuable piece of their collection (US$ 370,000, but probably worth over US$ 1,000.000 because it is a unique piece), it is possible to buy for US$ 50,00 pieces of “Campo del Cielo” meteorites at the MACN’s main entrance during a Sunday flea market at the Centenary Park. In 1924” El Hacha” (2, 5 K), was discovered, being followed by “El Mocoví”, (732 kilos) collected in 1925 at Colonia San Luis, Chaco. Others are: “El Tonocote” (850 Kg., 1931), “El Abipón” (460 k.o., 1936), “El Mataco” (990 kg., 1937) and “El Taco” (2 Tons 1961). From an enormous crater it was recovered a 37, 4 ton meteorite called “El Chaco”, the biggest one ever fallen on Argentine territory and the fourth in size in the world (see table nº 1). (Alvarez, 1926). During decades Argentines allowed hundreds or may be thousands of small “Campo del Cielo” pieces from Gran Chaco, Gualamba, and
The Natural History British Museum iron meteorite from Chaco, Argentina.
the “Esquel pallasite” from Esquel, Chubut, to be legally exported (there was no legislation?). I was informed that the MACN meteorite exhibition hall was partially disbanded long ago and the remaining “El Toba", the “Mocovi” collected at Colonia San Luis, (Chaco) and a third (without name) from Charata, (Chaco) were left in the same place because they were too heavy to be moved away. They are almost surely pieces of the same “Campo del Cielo” field. As an example of the scarce value that Argentine MACN authorities pay for these magnificent meteorites is the fact that there is no information available to the public about their history, their chemical compositions, no map of the place where they were discovered, no photo of the craters, etc. When law No 25,743 was drafted with the scientific assistance of MACN paleontologists, they forgot to enclose meteorites as valuable scientific and cultural heritage cosmic artefacts, which at that moment were object of intense commerce and smuggling. At present it is possible to purchase at British Jurassic Fossils, (UK) or through Ebay or Internet, pieces of 40 g., 480 g. (US$ 37, 66), or 2, 25 Kg. (US$ 395). The biggest one “El Chaco” with 37, 4 Ton was stolen in 1990 by meteorite collector Robert Haag and two accomplices who were detained by Chaco provincial police escaping with the meteorite on a small convoy that included a heavy truck with a winch. A local judge charged them. After paying a US$ 20,000 bond, Hagg was released and returned to Arizona. He never returned to Chaco and is fugitive at large. He is well known in the meteorite market as the “meteoriteman” and from time to time he sells on Internet small “Campo del Cielo” pieces. On the Internet there is one firm (http://www.arizonaskiesmeteorites.com/) that has a total of 16 pieces of different size and quality, with a total weight of 185 Kg of "Campo del Cielo" meteorites with a retail price of US$ 16,254. Pieces vary from 0,74 Kg to 56 Kg, and prices fluctuate from US$ 220 to 3,995, (mean price: 1 kg. = US$ 87,80).
Another firm had on sale during August 2005 three pieces only: A small Iron Meteorite / Campo del Cielo / 45kg, US$ 4,050. A large, iron meteorite/Campo del cielo/ oriented/ 106 Kg. US $ 25,440. A large Iron Meteorite / Baygorria / Oriented / (from Uruguay?) 220kg US$ 44.000 (http://www.meteorites.tv/). Meteorites Plus from Arizona offered 12 small pieces between US$ 52 and 235. (http://www.meteoriteplus.com/) A dealer from Wa, USA had on sale a 32 inches x 27 priced at US$ 65,000 (http://www.bigmeteorite.com/igmeteorite.com/). There are hundreds of firms offering “Campo del Cielo” meteorites being impossible to mention all of them. Freshly fallen appearance, no rust, and thumb printing is very much appreciated. Scientists have attempted to date the El Chaco meteorite, 37 tons. Campo fall by carbon dating of charred wood found in the craters. Dates of 5,800 years (plus or minus 200 years) and 3,950 years (plus or minus 90 years) have been obtained. These dates are consistent with an Indian oral tradition that the irons fell from heaven. Many of the Campo meteorites are highly rusted and corroded by terrestrial chlorides however some have significant areas of relatively fresh fusion crust. This too, is an indicator of a fall in the not-too-distant past.
A 15 Ton meteorite was unearthed by NASA researchers in Chaco recently.

Dr. William Cassidy who in the 60’s studied the “Campo del Cielo” area, came back to Gancedo, Chaco and together with a team of NASA specialists and the assistance of local authorities could detect at Gancedo, a 15 Ton meteorite that
had been buried 7 m below the surface of a crater it made when it crashed into the Earth almost 6,000 years ago.
Detected on September 16th/2005 the meteorite, without name by the moment, has a weight of 14,850 Kilograms, and it became the 8th heaviest meteorite in the world. The discovery was received with great joy and proud by locals inhabitants and authorities. (Clarin 20/10/05).
Cassidy and a NASA team recovered another 15 Tons."Campo del Cielo "meteorite at Chaco. Clarin October 2005.
The theft of the Tañigo II meteorite (Chaco)

On the 10th. April 2003, a meteorite from the estancia Tañigo II from Mr. H. Conradi, its owner, was stolen. It was considered to be heavier than the “El Toba”, some say it was around 6 Tons; others consider it was only 4 Tons. A reward was offered but police was completely in the dark. The meteorite had no name but it became known as the Tañigo II. A truck, a station wagon and a motorcycle participated in the robbery that took place near Campo Hermoso, (Charata), Chaco, from where another meteorite at the MACN’s exhibition was found, many decades ago. Curiously, in order to confuse its owner from a distance, a cement rock of the same size covered with iron was left at the meteorite’s place. Apparently he had tried in the past to sell the meteorite to different dealers; the delay of 20 days in denouncing the theft to the police brought some suspicions against him.
Later there was a new that the Tañigo II was in the hands of a meteorite dealer from the Great Buenos Aires area, ready to be sold for an amount over half a million dollars. The new also said hat the meteorite had been already sold to a meteorite dealer in USA, and that it was going to be exported from Uruguay. According to Ron Baalke (baalke at zagami.jpl.nasa.gov) the weight of the meteorite was estimated, it never was moved from the discovery area in 1996It has 1.84 cm in length (more than 5, 5 feets). The estimated weight is 6 to 8 tons, and some people said, according with its size, it could reach the 10 tons. Was called "Tañigo II" or "Santiago del Estero". Is the second mass in Campo del Cielo after de "Chaco" meteorite (37.400 kg). The authorities of Argentina offered a reward for any information on it. This large meteorite is protected by Province of Chaco laws. If any person has information, please contact with:
Dr. Carlos Clauter
Judge of the cause Las Heras
45(3720) Charata, Chaco,Argentina
(Telefax ++543731 420004
Diario Norte (newspaper)Pellegrino 144(3500) Resistencia, Chaco, Argentina
(Tel ++543722 426047)
(Director) Policia del Chaco
++543722 463103 (Jefatura)
++543722 434127 (Investigations)
(Dept. Judicial) Ministro de Gobierno
Sr. Roy Nikisch
Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
++5411 48197000
The biggest stolen “Campo del cielo “on sale in USA
Up to now is the biggest “Campo del Cielo” meteorite we find on sale on Internet.
Campo del Cielo, 924 Lbs. (approximately 415 Kg), Iron Nickel Meteorite, Chaco, Argentina, (32 inches high x 27 inches wide). On sale by Mark Earnst at Woolly Mammoth Rock Shop & Museum, 255341 Highway 101, Port Angeles, Wa 98362. ( Mark@BigMeteorite.com) .

Foreword

Argentina is one of the richer countries in South America on fossils and meteorites. From its federal, provincial and private lands thousands of fossils and meteorites are being plundered, illegally exported and sold to Northern Hemisphere countries, where this type of collectibles are very much sought after and fetch high prices. There is great concern among paleontologists, paleontological societies and non profit organizations about the volume of Argentine fossil and meteorite illegal trades. Our organization has been created by two British citizens, Jeremy R. Young and Anthony D. Lovekey to understand why these trades are taking place, and how countries as Argentina are prepared to fight them. Another country where illegal trade conditions are very similar is Chile, hundreds or thousands of fossils are being collected from the Atacama desert in the North and sold through the internet and Ebay. Having obtained (A.D.L.) my Master degree in a small country were fossils are scarce, I was gladly surprised to discover the fossil and meteorite wealth of Argentina, and sad when understood that the present authorities of the country and scientific institutions are not aware of the magnitude of their cultural and scientific heritages loss. We both owe a great debt to our wives, who had to live with us discussing and exclusively speaking about fossils and meteorites 24 hours a day for many months. Lovekey must thank the many anonymous researchers, civil servants and authorities who helped in Buenos Aires, generously sparing their time and often laying bared their reputations with no more than an “off the record” to protect them. Lovekey would like to pay special tribute to Argentine Paleontologists that even though working with low salaries have discovered so many dinosaur species and endure to do research in a country that is just recovering from the economic default, but is still plagued by a weak judicial system, bureaucracy, government inefficiency and unfortunately corruption, even in the Scientific system. We have hoped this report assist to shed some light on these issues and contribute to reverse the inexorable trend that the fossil and meteorites trade are producing.
Supporters
Among our supporters we can mention and thank Fernando, a researcher from the Argentine Natural Sciences Museums at Buenos Aires, Anthony McCracken a free lance journalist of mixed Argentine and Canadian citizenship living at Ontario, Canada; and Luis Moran from Chile for his ground support while where doing our field research in Atacama, Chile. Maria Pia Tate. from Rosario, Santa Fe province is our local representative in Argentina and person in charge of the blog.
Our Gratitude
Special thanks to Fernando for his generous support while we lived in numerous occasions at his home in downtown Buenos Aires every time we came back from Patagonia during 2005 and in the last months during 2006 in our monthly trip to Buenos Aires.
M Sc. Anthony D. Lovekey
June 2006

Illegal Fossil Trade non-profit civil association

ILLEGAL FOSSIL TRADE

Is a non-profit Civil Association originally established in England with a very small office in Russell Square in downtown Bloomsbury, London. It is devoted to study the fossils and meteorites smuggling operations in the developing world. It has started its operations in Argentina during the second semester of 2005 where we have compiled an enormous amount of information about Argentine fossils and meteorites illegal commerce and smuggling operations and to closely observe what the National and provincial governments are doing in order to fight these operations. Several European and North American donors contributed to a small fund specially created to support us. During 2005 we have visited twice Argentina (July and October) when we obtained valuable information from Argentine paleontologists, had numerous interviews and browsed Internet where there is an enormous wealth of Newspapers reports, official web sites, CV of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences authorities, and exchanged mails with numerous researchers, meteorite and fossil collectors, some dealers, and provincial authorities in charge of Cultural Affairs. More recently every month and for a longer period during May /June 2006 when back from Atacama, Chile, we met with our Argentine supporters receiving. a wealth of crude information that we still need to process. We include some of our recent findings.