Fragment of the Valera Meteorite — The Only Documented Fatal Impact
Lot 7¤
Fragment of the Valera Meteorite — The Only Documented Fatal Impact
Sold for US$ 1,553 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Fragment of the Valera Meteorite — The Only Documented Fatal Impact
L5
Trujillo, Venezuela


While the previous lot may have foreshadowed a death, there is no doubt as to the casualty wrought by Valera. On the evening of October 15, 1972 farmhands in Trujillo, Venezuela were startled by an inexplicable sonic boom. The next morning a large, unusual rock was found alongside the carcass of a cow whose neck and shoulder had been pulverized.

It was clear to the owner of the farm, physician Argimiro Gonzalez, what had occurred, but he didn’t think anything of it as it seemed natural that falling rocks would occasionally result in deaths. The small boulder was ultimately set aside and used as a doorstop. Many years later scientists confirmed what Dr. Gonzalez had long presumed—the boulder was in fact a meteorite. What Dr. Gonzalez didn't know was that this is the first and only documented fatal meteorite impact.

When astronomer Ignacio Ferrin of the University of the Andes learned of Valera, just one of three Venezuelan meteorites, he visited the Gonzalez estate and was able to make contact with a witness to the events of October 15-16, 1972. Dr. Ferrin purchased Valera and obtained an affidavit provided by the witness which was notarized by the Ministry of Justice—a copy of which is provided with this offering:

I, Juan Dionicio Delgado, Venezuelan, identified by the National Identity Document No. 5.030.450, hereby declare in this document that at the end of 1972, I was visiting the farm “El Tinajero” owned by Argimiro Gonzalez, deceased, which was located at the boundary of the states of Barinas and Trujillo. It was past midnight when we were talking, and there was a strange noise. When we went out to investigate due to the dark of the night we saw nothing. But the next morning a worker came to say that there was a cow killed under strange circumstances. When we went to investigate we found that the cow had been killed by a stone that presumably fell from the sky the night before, causing the noise we had been unable to explain. The stone, broken in several pieces, was kept by Dr. Gonzalez, while the cow was eaten over the following days. These are the facts, as expressed in Barinas, the eleventh day of January 2001.

Juan Delgado


This softly triangular wedge-shpaed specimen is polished on one face and is covered with fusion crust on a second face. It exhibits a richly-hued, variegated matrix abundant in chondrules (spherical inclusions of silica) and is seemingly glazed with sparkling metallic grains. An engaging specimen of the deadliest of meteorites.
89 x 61 x 39mm (3.5 x 2.5 x 1.5in) and 275 grams

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