Friday, April 26, 2013

Rhino Heads Stolen

From the Weird News Department: Rhino Heads Stolen From An Irish Museum

Sometimes the global economy has unusual consequences.

Masked men stole four Rhino heads from a storeroom of the Ireland National Museum in Swords, north of Dublin. The masked men tied up a security guard who later freed himself and reported the theft.

The century old horns had been placed in guarded security after a spate of such thefts across Europe in recent years.

Powdered rhino horn is sold at high prices in China and southeast Asia because it is alleged to be an aphrodisiac and to cure cancer. Scientists have found no such properties, which isn't surprising given the horns' content. Rhino horns are made of keratin which is the same major ingredient in skin, hair, nails, claws, and hooves. The fibrous structural proteins in all these items are similar and there is no reason for the proteins to have medicinal or specific interactive value with cellular biochemicals.

However, because of the persistent perception of their medicinal value half a world away from Ireland, the eight horns are suspected by the guardi (police) to have a value of up to $650,000.

Investigators wonder if the heist was conducted by an organized crime gang with links to the County Limerick town of Rathkeale. This group is suspected to have conducted the thefts across Europe.

Obviously this theft has deprived museum visitors of the opportunity to see in person the heads of these powerful beasts to gain an appreciation for their unique size and body form.

Rhinos have been hunted across Asia and Africa near to or into extinction. One of the stolen heads was of the extinct white rhinoceros from Sudan in North Africa.

At least the stolen rhino heads were from animals long dead.

And the thieves may have an issue in that the eight horns (two per head) were coated with arsenic a century ago as a preservative and arsenic has well known poisonous properties.

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