A 120-million-year-old tree fossil has been returned by a repentant person more than 35 years after it was stolen.
The remains of the ancient conifer was originally found by Felix Saez Arnedoa, a shepherd, in the village of Igea, La Rioja, Spain, in 1985.
They found a tree trunk about 36 feet long. It had been dragged by a river and was eventually buried in the area where it was found.
For a year after its discovery, the tree was often vandalized by people trying to take a piece, leaving the trunk a mere 19.6 inches in length, with a chunk missing from the middle. Finally, a fence was erected to protect it.
Vandalism to the tree hit the headlines after Garcia condemned the damage during a local radio program. She said someone who heard her interview decided to return a stolen piece of the fossil.
The person, whose name wasn’t revealed, sent her a piece of bark back in a small box. A letter explained it had been taken 35 years ago.
In the letter, the person said: “The 35 years that have passed in our lives means only two minutes for this fossilized tree in comparison to us.”
After the delivery of the first two remains, a woman called the center and said her father had taken a piece many years ago, and she would give it back.
A fossilised tree, also known as petrified wood, is created when the original plant material is covered by sediment and does not decay, due to a lack of oxygen.