70 Million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Skull Is Caught in Tug-of-war

Dr. James Godwin's victory against the government in the case of a stolen Mongolian dinosaur skull was short lived.A federal judge in Dallas recently threw out the government's forfeiture lawsuit against the fossil. To the Wichita Falls anesthesiologist and fossil enthusiast, it seemed Godwin might get to keep his prized Tyrannosaurus bataar skull, valued at about $225,000.U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor said in his March 16 ruling that dinosaur fossils are not considered wild animals and therefore do not fall under the Lacey Act, which prohibits the trade of protected wildlife. The government had cited that law as the authority for its forfeiture action.But O'Connor gave government lawyers time to refile their lawsuit and they did just that, citing a different federal statute -- the National Stolen Property Act. The feds maintain that the 70 million-year-old skull that belonged to a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex was among a horde of dinosaur fossils stolen from Mongolia years ago.The government says a U.S. fossil dealer traveled to Mongolia to obtain multiple fossils from a supplier and then shipped them to China to avoid a U.S. Customs inspection. From there, the fossils were shipped to the United Kingdom and then into the U.S., the forfeiture lawsuit says.  Continue reading...

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