After causing an international stir with his statement that he will try and retrieve an ancient Maltese shark tooth gifted to Prince George, National Heritage Minister Jose Herrera has now clarified that the country won’t actively pursue means of retrieving the ancient fossil after all.
“Malta’s history and its geological formations spanning millions of years makes the island a unique historical and cultural landmark,” Herrera said.
“Although Malta’s national collection of historic artefacts is an extensive one, as showcased in various museums and heritage sites, one must note that there are numerous other artefacts of a considerate value that originally belonged to Malta which are currently in different countries.”
“As a nation we are extremely fond of our history and hence through our national heritage agencies we are always actively looking at avenues to acquire artefacts that have intrinsic value to the Maltese Islands. The Minister’s initial comments were based on the related national legislation in particular the Cultural Heritage Act, 2002 which superseded the previous legislation being the Antiquities (Protection) Act of 1910 and the Antiquities (Protection) Act of 1925. The Minister would like to note that with reference to this case, it is not the intention to pursue this matter any further.”
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to share new photographs of their family with @DavidAttenborough. The photographs were taken earlier this week in the gardens of Kensington Palace, after The Duke and Sir David attended an outdoor screening of Sir David’s upcoming feature film ????️ ‘David Attenborough: A Life On Our Planet’. With a shared passion for protecting the natural world, they continue to support one another in their missions to tackle some of the biggest environmental challenges our planet faces. This includes working together on The @EarthshotPrize ???? the most prestigious global environment prize in history – further details of which will be shared in the coming weeks. When they met, Sir David gave Prince George a tooth from a giant shark ???? the scientific name of which is carcharocles megalodon (‘big tooth’). Sir David found the tooth on a family holiday to Malta in the late 1960s, embedded in the island’s soft yellow limestone which was laid down during the Miocene period some 23 million years ago. Carcharocles is believed to have grown to 15 metres in length, which is about twice the length of the Great White, the largest shark alive today.
Last Saturday, world-renowned natural historian Sir David Attenborough gifted seven-year old Prince George an ancient Carcharocles tooth which he had found when he was on holiday in Malta back in the 1960s.
Herrera’s initial reaction was to state that the shark tooth should be in a local museum and to promise to “set the ball rolling” to get it back.
“There are some artefacts that are important to Maltese natural heritage and which ended up abroad and deserve to be retrieved,“ he told Times of Malta.
Herrera’s promises to kickstart the process of bringing Prince George’s shark tooth sparked ample controversy. A number of major, foreign news outlets even picked up on the story.
“From the world-famous Koh-i-noor diamond to the Rosetta Stone, British royals have long been gifted rare objects that campaigners want repatriated to their rightful lands,” The Guardian wrote.
“Prince George, it seems, is the latest in the line of fire, after being given a giant prehistoric shark tooth by the environmentalist and national treasure Sir David Attenborough.”
A quick Google search will show that ancient Megalodon shark teeth are actually not that rare after all, with some being sold for less than €30.
Photo left: Kensington Palace