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Paris auction of Moroccan ‘Nessie’ makes waves
“RABAT (AFP).- Geologists in Morocco on Tuesday denounced the planned auction of a 66-million-year-old marine dinosaur skeleton in Paris and demanded that the remains be repatriated.
The nearly nine-metre-long plesiosaur, a marine reptile with a long neck and turtle-like flippers, was discovered in a phosphate basin near the Moroccan city of Khouribga.
The skeleton is set for auction on March 7 at the Drouot auction house in Paris.
“The plesiosaurs were among the most emblematic ‘giant primitive beasts’ which have intrigued scientists and amateurs for centuries,” Drouot said in its auction catalogue, adding that the creatures had probably inspired the legend of the Loch Ness monster in Scotland.
But the Association for the Protection of the Geological Heritage of Morocco (APPGM) on Tuesday criticised the planned auction, saying the skeleton was a “unique patrimonial treasure”.
It said it had asked Morocco’s chief geologist to find out if it had been authorised for export.
If not, the association would ask the Moroccan authorities to “intervene with the organisers of the sale to restitute the plesiosaurus to its country of origin, Morocco”, it said.
Alexandre Giquello, auctioneer and president of Drouot, said the creature was “reconstituted in Europe from four fossils legally bought at the Frankfurt Trade Fair” by Italian collectors. (…)” READ MORE
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