Valuable fossil missing from Maryland store

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 10:28 PM

A piece of prehistory has been purloined. A fossil has been filched in Frederick, the police there reported. It is called a trilobite, and it is missing, its owner said.

It was about 400 million years old, said Richard Constant Bailey, owner of Earthly Elements, a rock shop in Frederick, from which the fossil " happened to walk away."

Trilobites, ancient marine animals, are said to be second perhaps only to the dinosaur in popularity among fanciers of the extinct.

Bailey said the fossil, which he was selling for $487, disappeared from a display case Saturday.

"Somebody opened up the display case," which was not locked, he said.

Smaller items disappear every few days, he said. But the trilobite, about four inches long, which he described as a "true collector's piece," was his most substantial loss.

He said the fossil, acquired from a British collector and found in the northern Sahara, was "very well prepared," and probably the best quality trilobite he had ever had in the store.

Frederick police are seeking the public's help in recovering the item.

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