Fossils are a 'Frankensaur' says paleontologist (+video)
A 70-million-year-old dinosaur the federal government seized is a Frankenstein-like amalgam of several dinosaurs. A Florida fossil dealer sold the dinosaur for $1.05 million in action in May and implied the bones were all from one creature.
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.Skip to next paragraph
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The claim - which federal prosecutors challenged - could complicate the US 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, US 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.
"It's kind of a Frankenstein model of a dinosaur parts of several dinosaurs," a somewhat surprised U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel noted.
Government paleontological experts apparently believe that the reconstruction came from a single creature.
"They did not pick up that this was from several sources?" Judge Castel asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Martin Bell.
"Their opinion is that it is largely from one dinosaur," Bell replied. "It was marketed as one dinosaur. A 75-percent complete, but one dinosaur."