Saturday, 7 April 2007

High Stakes Custody Battle for Fossil Dinosaur Continues

Custody battles for fossils can bring big money these days so it comes as no surprise that it was announced today that a 2 ½ year custody battle for the ownership of Tinker, a juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex will continue. A federal court of appeal ruled that a the lease formed between fossil hunters, who dug up the 65 million-year-old fossil and the County of Harding County, South Dakota was valid. This reverses a ruling made last year that deemed the lease void because it didn't follow a state law that requires leases exceeding 120 days and $500 USD to go before a public hearing.

Tinker is currently interned in Pennsylvania. An offer of $8.5 million USD has been made for the extraordinary fossil skeleton. In 1992, South Dakota saw another a custody battle for a dinosaur skeleton: Sue, a beautifully preserved, 13m (42ft) long T. rex specimen was at the center. Claims to Sue were made by a local rancher, a team of fossil hunters, a Sioux Indian tribe and the United States Government. It ended seven years later by awarding the dinosaur to the rancher on whose land the find was made. He then auctioned her off at Sotheby's, the winning bid went to Chicago's Field Museum with corporate sponsorship from McDonald’s and Walt Disney to the tune of $8.4 million. To date, it has been the most expensive fossil ever sold, I wonder if Tinker will break the record?

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