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Dinosaur print stolen from quarry

13 March 09 16:45 GMT

A 135-million-year-old fossilised dinosaur footprint has been stolen from a quarry in Dorset.

The print was chiselled out of a limestone slab at Coombefield Quarry on the Jurassic Coast on Portland sometime over the last six months.

Another 25 slabs with fossil footprints have now been moved to a safer place.

Portland Gas Storage Ltd, which plans to build a storage facility, set up a trust to safeguard unearthed prints.

'Treasured items'

The other slabs bear the footprints of dinosaurs including the two-legged herbivore iguanadon and the four-legged herbivore sauropod.

They were all - including the 18-inch one that was stolen - unearthed by quarrying at the Stone Firms Ltd site in 2002.

Portland Gas Trust manager, Rachel Barton said: "Aside from the risk of vandalism or theft by some elements of the public, their previous setting was a busy working site exposing the treasured items to unnecessary risk.

"Safeguarding these historic footprints supports the trust's key aims to benefit projects connected with Portland."

The company's gas storage facility will comprise 14 underground storage caverns to hold 1% of the UK's annual demand for natural gas.

The trust plans to put the footprints on display at a new £1.5m visitor centre.

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