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An ammonite mining company is offering a reward after a fossil worth thousands of dollars was stolen in broad daylight Thursday.

Miners at the open pit site near Lethbridge, Alta., had just recovered a rare piece of ammonite – a fossil from a coiled shellfish that lived about the time of the dinosaurs – when the heist happened.

The workers were taking a lunch break when they noticed a couple men at the opposite end of the open pit mine.

“An individual came down this 30 foot bank and grabbed a fossil,” mine manager Michael Shideler told CTV Lethbridge.

The man stuffed the piece of ammonite into his backpack and took off. He scrambled out of the mine pit, ran across a field, climbed into another embankment, crossed a river and raced to a waiting pickup truck.

The miners gave chase but stopped when they were threatened with a pickaxe.

Once he crossed the river, the terrain made it difficult to track the man down.

“There’s a lot of back roads going through these ravines and coulees that they can go and hide,” said Shideler.

The company searched the area by airplane and spotted the truck parked by another ammonite mine.

The RCMP are appealing to the public to try to locate the truck, its owners and the missing fossil.

“It’s something that when it’s finished is probably worth in the area of thirty to forty thousand dollars, U.S. value,” Shideler said.

“It wasn’t just a piece of rock, piece of gem,” he added. “It was a full, intact fossil that was taken.”

The company is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and recovery of the fossil.

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