On 16 October 1996, it was reported that a set of fossilised dinosaur footprints had been stolen from a sacred Aboriginal site in outback Australia.
The footprints came from the best preserved trackway of a stegosaur in the world, and were the world’s only known set of fossilised stegosaurus prints.
They were also the only evidence that stegosaurs had once populated the Australian continent.
The footprints were regarded by Aborigines near Broome, northwestern Australia, to belong to a mythical creature from their “Dream Time”.
The theft shocked and outraged Aborigines, as it violated an Aboriginal sacred site on the isolated coastline near Broome.
On 30 December 1998, one of the missing footprints was recovered. Police investigations found that the thieves had attempted to sell the prints on the Asian market, but had been unsuccessful, possibly because of the size and weight of the fossils.
Each of the three toes of the large print measured 15cm. The 30kg block of rock in which the print was embedded measured 60cm by 40cm and was 13cm deep. Police did not elaborate on how they had recovered the missing fossil