Old ones that got away surface in Germany

November 3, 2000

Fossils of the earliest creature with a backbone, stolen from Scotland, could soon be returning after being discovered at a German university museum.

Up to a dozen 430 million-year-old fossils of Jamoytius kerwoodi, a jawless fish, were found earlier this year at Humboldt University, Berlin, by a New Zealand academic. Scottish Natural Heritage has sent two geologists to Germany to discuss the return of the fossils, which were hacked from a Lanarkshire river bank by a private collector.

David McLavin, of SNH, said the university bought the specimens "in good faith". They are worth up to £10,000 each.

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