After last week brought us the story of Italian customs catching dozens of people trying to make off with more than 200 pounds of precious Sardinian sand, rocks, and sea shells, we thought things would calm down a bit—that would-be thieves would return to traditional heists centered around stealing precious jewels and vaults filled with cash. We were wrong. A Facebook post from Italy’s customs authorities, published last Sunday, has shown us that the bandits are just as determined to profit off dinosaur eggs as they are bags of sand.
Custom agents at Italy’s Milan Bergamo Airport recently discovered a fossilized Shunosaurus egg that was, according to a translation of the post, being illegally shipped from Malaysia alongside “a certification of origin of dubious authenticity, issued by a body which subsequently [was found to be] non-existent.” Authorities believe the egg was en route from China, where the Shunosaurus once roamed, laying eggs in the first part of a very, very long con.
Because the egg had been shipped “without suitable certification” and its intended recipient didn’t want to take ownership of it—probably because it was being illegally shipped—it was given to the state “for future display.” A short video accompanying the customs agency’s post shows the egg. If the people responsible for trying to sell the egg overseas are caught and prosecuted, this clip makes us think the best possible defense is for a legal team to claim its clients simply believed they were shipping a giant-sized, special edition Whopper and not an important paleontological find.
This Italian customs’ seizure should be enough of a warning to potential egg bandits to reevaluate their careers. But, just in case they need another example of the potential dangers of their trade, we suggest they look at the fates suffered by other aspiring dinosaur DNA smugglers.
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