A Utah man has been indicted on federal charges of stealing a fossilized dinosaur footprint from the Jurassic period.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah announced Wednesday that a grand jury returned the indictment against 35-year-old Jared Ehlers of Moab. He is facing up to 20 years in prison on four accounts.
Authorities in southeast Utah say the track was pried last month from the sandstone on Hell’s Revenge Trail in the Sand Flats Recreation Area near Moab.
Rebecca Hunt-Foster, a paleontologist from the Bureau of Land Management, said the track preserved the remains of a dinosaur that scientists haven’t found the bones for yet.
“It is very scientifically valuable and important because we don’t have any other way to document that these animals were living at this time other than their tracks currently," Hunt-Foster said.
The track itself was about a foot long. It belonged to the Allosaurus dinosaur which lived more than 190 million years ago and had three toes. Allosaurus would have been between 20 and 30 feet in length and 30 feet in height which made him the perfect for his carnivorous diet.
Morgan Pratt is a sophomore at Utah State University seeking a degree in Journalism and Communications.