Thieves walk off with sacred dinosaur footprints
October 15, 1996
Web posted at: 11:45 p.m. EDT (0345 GMT)
MELBOURNE, Australia (CNN) -- The only known set of
fossilized Stegosaurus footprints, left some 130 million
years ago, have been stolen from the outback, angering
The theft of the fossils was discovered on a visit to the
sacred site last week, the Western Australian Museum said
Tuesday. It appeared power tools were used to remove the
prints from the rock, according to the museum's senior
paleontologist, Ken McNamara.
Aborigines believe the prints belong to a mythical creature
from their "Dream Time." The footprints were part of a "song
line" of sites used in their ceremonies, said anthropologist
"It's a very sacred thing to me," said Joseph Roe,
aboriginal custodian for the past eight years of the
footprints near Broome, on the country's remote northwest
"According to aboriginal tradition, whoever has taken them
has placed themselves in great danger," he said. "They might
get sick or I might get sick."
The offense was punishable by death under aboriginal law, he
"If he (a thief) comes to face me I will put a spear
through him and finish him," Roe said by telephone from
Broome, a tourist town over 1,800 miles northwest of Sydney.
The stegosaurus was a herbivore that stood around 10 feet
tall with a double row of spikes along its back, McNamara
Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.