Collector's illegal hoard of 5,000 rare bird eggs is helping Tring museum study evolution
Thousands of wild bird eggs seized from an illegal collector have been given to Tring National History Museum for research.
Daniel Lingham, 65, was jailed for 18 weeks in November last year after more than 5,000 bird eggs were found at his home near Norfolk.
He was also ordered to hand his entire collection of eggs to the Natural History Museum - where they are now set to provide researchers with insights into how birds have evolved over time.
Tring Natural History Museum is using three clutches of Lingham's stolen lapwing eggs in a study about wading birds, looking at the evolution of the eggs' shape and size since the 1800s.
And researchers say the well-preserved eggshells hold an enormous amount of vital information.
The eggs stolen by Lingham come from about 50 different species, which account for 20 per cent of the bird species known to breed in the UK.
The Natural History Museum has hundreds of thousands of eggs gathered over the past 200 years, including times when egg collecting was still legal.
There are no projects that legally collect wild eggs as part of scientific research.