Prehistoric fossil found on bus during routine police check

Authorities in Peru’s hinterlands are accustomed to seizing all sorts of contraband stowed aboard the never-ending caravan of passenger buses that rumble across the Andes toward the capital, Lima:

Pre-Columbian artifacts sacked from ancient ruins. Religious relics and paintings torn from the walls of colonial era churches. Tons of Cocaine.

But in Peru’s Arequipa Department police were shocked this week to discover the fossilized jaw bone of a prehistoric animal on Tuesday that may have come from a triceratops some 70 million years ago.

The fossil was found wrapped in newspaper in a cardboard box during a routine check on a bus traveling from the southern Moquegua Department north to the capital, Police Capt. Cléber Jiménez told Enlace Nacional television.

“They began an examination of the article because its characteristics were different from its alleged contents,” said Jiménez. “Worried about its weight, it was opened and there was a jaw inside.”

The jaw weighs about 8.5 kilograms, or 18.7 pounds.

The museum director at Arequipa’s National San Agustín University, Pablo de la Vera, told Reuters news agency police photographs of the prehistoric jaw suggest it came from a triceratops, which were nine meters long and weighed up to 11 tons.“

According to the images of the confiscation, the jaw would be from a triceratops,” said De la Vega. “Even though I don’t have any knowledge of prehistoric animal findings in Moquegua.”

De la Vega added that the fossil was likely being illegally trafficked.

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