Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Dinosaur skeleton in custody battle may be 'Frankenstein amalgam'

A 70-million-year-old dinosaur at the center of an international fossil custody battle is a Frankenstein-like amalgam of parts of several creatures, a Manhattan federal court was told on Wednesday.

The claim - which federal prosecutors challenged - could complicate the U.S. government's forfeiture case against a Florida fossil dealer who reconstructed tyrannosaurus bataar bones and sold the piece at auction in May for $1.05 million. Auction marketing material for the skeleton implies that it is a reconstruction of a single creature.

In June, U.S. officials seized the eight-foot-tall (2.4-metre tall), 24-foot-long (7.3-metre long), partially-reconstructed cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex, after Mongolia demanded its return on suspicion that it was smuggled out of the Gobi desert.

On Wednesday, Michael McCullough, an attorney representing Florida commercial paleontologist Eric Prokopi said that about half the reconstruction - fossilized bones welded onto a metal frame - came from one creature and the other half from "at least two, most likely many" creatures.


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