The Chinese authorities have taken into custody a man accused of stealing 80 fossilized dinosaur eggs from a collector. Many of the nabbed eggs remain unaccounted for.
Chinese state media reported on Monday that the detained man only possessed 27 of the 80 stolen fossilized dinosaur eggs.
Police recovered the 27 eggs upon arresting the dinosaur-egg klepto in his hometown in the north-eastern Heilongjiang province. However, the other 53 eggs remain missing.
The man's relatives cooperated with the Huanan county police and persuaded the thief to turn himself in. Police had previously arrested three other suspects in relation to the egg robbery.
The four men are accused of stealing the 80 eggs from a Zhejiang-province collector during the night of January 9. The just-apprehended man had previously visited the collector two times, feigning interest in purchasing the fossilized eggs.
The band is thought to have divided the stolen eggs among them.
The investigation remains ongoing.
China - a hotspot for fossils
China is a primary source of fossils for collectors, and the country possesses some of the biggest dinosaur fossil collections in the world.
The southern city of Heyuan is particularly known to be a dense repository for the extinct reptilians' eggs. More than 13,000 eggs have been discovered in the city nick-named "the home of dinosaurs" since 1996, when a group of school children stumbled across dinosaur fossils while playing on a building site. In April 2015, construction workers there unearthed a nest of 43 eggs while undertaking road works.
Many fossils discovered in China and Mongolia are often exported illegally to other countries, where they are purchased by private individuals or auctioned off, sometimes at prices reaching as high as one million USD.
cmb/kms (dpa, AFP)