DINOSAUR 'EGGS' SEIZED IN VALENCIA
Customs operation in Valencia port uncovers plundered Argentine fossils
NATIONAL Police officers and tax office inspectors intercepted a container holding fossils in Valencia port that had been illegally exported from Argentina.
Both authorities had been tipped off by the World Customs Organisation after Argentine authorities requested help to detect, detain and identify the contents of a shipping container, suspected of including fossils plundered from the country's Río Negre region, heading to Valencia.
Spanish authorities were able to locate the container, and carry out a visual inspection when it was unloaded from a ship.
A few days later a more thorough inspection by officials from Valencia customs authority revealed the existence of remains coinciding with the description of the looted fossils, as well as multiple specimens of animals protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
A third inspection of the container was undertaken by the director of Valencia’s museum of natural sciences along with a dinosaur fossil expert.
This inspection revealed high value fossils including several extremely well conserved dinosaur eggs with a black market value of more than €150,000.
The remains also included a horse’s tooth, which showed that the species had originated in America and from there spread to the rest of the world through the Bering Straits, as well as the complete skeleton of a dinosaur.
The majority of these pieces were hidden using stones of different size, shape and colour to evade custom inspections, so that all the fragments passed as remains without any paleontological value.
At present, all the merchandise transported in the container from Argentina (fossils, minerals and CITES species), remain in Valencia port at the disposal of the Argentine authorities.They will be repatriated after authorisation has been made by the competent judicial authority.
Some of the fossils which were seized