US returns smuggled dinosaur egg fossils to China

Updated: 2011-12-02 19:59


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LOS ANGELS- Twenty-two rare dinosaur egg fossils that were smuggled to the United States were turned over to China on Thursday.

The 22 fossilized dinosaur eggs, each 65 million years old, are so well preserved that the remains of the dinosaur embryos are still visible inside 19 of them.

"This is the third time the US government has returned smuggled fossils to the Chinese government since 2009," said Qiu Shaofang, Consul General of China in Los Angeles.

The fossils had been unearthed in Nanping Basin, South China's Guangdong province, and the dinosaur is called Oviraptor dating from the Cretaceous period, Jia Yueming, curator of the Geological Museum of China told Xinhua.

In 2007, agents of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized the fossilized dinosaur eggs.

"The item was being auctioned for sell by an auction house in LA when it was seized for $450,000 and the buyer was prepared to go forward with the sell," said Victor Rodgers, assistant US Attorney, Central District of California.