DEVON, UK – September 17, 2015 A cave site in the southwest of England (protected by steel doors) has recently been broken into and some material broken out of the fossil bed and stolen. Alan Finch, secretary at the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust, announced that Joint Mitnor Cave and Reeds Cave were broken into lately and certain artifacts such as an iconic elephant tooth (pictured) were stolen.
The cave is the site of the richest deposit of mammalian remains of the Last Interglacial age (probably about l00,000 years old) yet found in a British cave. These animals had apparently fallen down a shaft in the roof of the cave, since blocked, and their remains were buried below in a talus cone of earth and stones.
Considerable damage was caused to the surrounding area during the break-in. The Police have been informed and the Devon Wildlife Trust are working with the organization to improve site security.
The trust is working with has asked the caving community to keep an ear to the ground and see if any strange objects pop up for sale.
Their website informs readers that: Just inside the entrance is a fair sized chamber to the left of which a talus cone of earth, boulders and bones covered by stalagmite slopes steeply upwards to form a rift. This talus once extended across the floor of the chamber but has since been excavated to reveal over 4000 bones of animals such as hippopotamus, bison, hyaena, and straight-tusked elephants dated to the lpswichian stage of the Pleistocene period.
While this interesting and relevant information highlights the importance of the site to science and tourism, it’s also an unfortunate reality that this level of detail may have aided the culprits. It points to an increasing level of security required for natural objects and calls into question how specific we should make information on our websites.