Chinese Authorities Make Arrests in “Crack Down” on Dinosaur Egg Thieves

Official Chinese State media has reported the arrest of a man accused of stealing dozens of fossilised dinosaur eggs.  A number of specimens have been recovered but many more are, as yet, unaccounted for.  China has some of the strictest regulations and laws in the world, when it comes to protecting rare artefacts including fossil remains.  Sadly, despite the very best efforts of the authorities there is a thriving black market in illegally acquired fossils, with huge sums of money being exchanged for dinosaur fossils including teeth, bones and fossilised eggs.

A Photograph of a Dinosaur Egg (Frankfurt Natural History Museum)

A dinosaur egg fossil.

A dinosaur egg (believed to be from a Theropod dinosaur).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

The media report states that a Chinese citizen with the surname Wang has been accused of stealing eighty dinosaur eggs from a collector in Zhejiang Province on the night of January 9th 2017.  Three other accomplices are believed to have been involved according to the report from the Xinhua News Agency.  Mr Wang had previously visited the collector twice under the pretext of making a prospective purchase, agency sources have stated.

The four suspects are believed to have divided up the stolen property and Mr Wang took home a total of twenty-seven eggs.  Police raided Mr Wang’s home earlier this month after arresting him, during the search of the property in Huanan County (Heilongjiang Province), the authorities were able to recover the stolen eggs, the remaining fossils, an estimated fifty or so specimens, have yet to be recovered.

Protoceratops Dinosaur – Eggs from These Dinosaurs were the First to be Scientifically Described

The fossils of a Protoceratops.

Protoceratops fossil display in Frankfurt Museum (could be a cast).

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Frankfurt Museum

The three accomplices have also been apprehended, Heilongjiang police have confirmed that Mr Wang was in police custody but no further information about the other parties involved was provided.

Over the last five decades or so, as China’s geology has been explored in more detail, a treasure trove of fossil material has been discovered, including numerous dinosaur fossils.  The Institute of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeoanthropology (IVPP) in Beijing is believed to hold the world’s largest collection of vertebrate fossils.  Sadly, despite it being illegal to export fossils and other material out of China, thefts still occur and many important fossils have been sent overseas to end up in the hands of private collectors.  Fossil protection legislation in the People’s Republic of China is comprehensive, the illegal excavation and export of vertebrate fossils including eggs was covered in the 1982 Cultural Relics Protection Law.  This law was developed from existing rules and regulations that had been in place prior to the Cultural Revolution.  More recently, legislation in this area was reviewed (2010-2013) and a number of Chinese scientific institutions have published guidelines and procedures to help organisations that are based outside China to stay on the right side of the law.

Dinosaur Eggs and Nests are Highly Sought After by Collectors

An Oivraptor fossil with nest.

An Oviraptor dinosaur sitting on a nest of fossilised eggs.

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur/Frankfurt Museum

All too often Everything Dinosaur has had to report on this blog incidences of fossil theft, illegal excavations or deliberate vandalism to an important fossil site.

For an article published in 2015 about a seizure of hundreds of stolen Chinese dinosaur eggs: Chinese Authorities Seize Dinosaur Eggs

To read an article from 2014 about the theft of a dinosaur footprint from Utah (United States): Dinosaur Footprint Stolen

Nicolas Cage agrees to return stolen dinosaur fossil: Hollywood Star Agrees to Return Tarbosaurus Fossil

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