A 67 million year old fossil, known as “Dueling Dinosaurs”, contains a well-preserved T. Rex alongside bones of a Triceratops (three-horned dinosaur) in love. similar situation.
Over the years, these two skeletons have been transferred back and forth between laboratories and barns as ranchers and paleontologists battle for ownership. On Tuesday, the war is finally coming to an end: the non-profit Friends of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences bought the two dinosaurs for $ 6 million. The 13.6-ton fossil will soon be taken to the museum in Raleigh, which is expected to begin preparations for a Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit in May 2021.
This exhibition, which may officially open to the public in 2022, will allow museum visitors to watch the paleontologists here study the fossil in detail, removing the surrounding rock to analyze the bones and any remaining soft tissue.
“There will be thousands of studies conducted on these fossils“- said Tyler Lyson, a paleontologist at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.
Researchers hope to find out how those dinosaurs died
One of the two fossils “Dueling Dinosaurs”
The Duealing Dinosaurs fossil is named after the most plausible theory about them: given the distance between the two skeletons, the researchers speculated that the dinosaurs might have died fighting. Some pieces of Uncle T. Rex’s teeth even stuck to Triceratops’ bones, further demonstrating the validity of the hypothesis.
But there are some other explanations – for example, maybe that uncle T. Rex found out that Uncle Triceratops was dead and decided to eat him.
“This is a mysterious murder that happened 67 million years ago“- said Lindsay Zanno, paleontological team leader of the museum.”This is what makes paleontologists drool“.
To uncover the mystery, the museum’s team applied for a permit to visit the site in Montana, where fossil hunters first dug two dinosaurs. There, they searched for clues that could tell when each organism died and how they were preserved.
Back at the museum, the researchers will take a closer look at the fossils to see if both skeletons showed signs of fighting damage.
More than a decade of litigation
The jaw and skull of Mr. T. Rex
Dueling Dinosaurs fossils were discovered in 2006 on a farm in Montana owned by Lige and Mary Ann Murray. At the time, fossil hunter Clayton Phipps and his team were surveying the farm while his relative, Chad O’Connor, traced the bones and found a pelvis of Uncle Triceratops. lying on a hill. After a few months of excavation, the team unearthed two almost intact Triceratops and T. Rex skeletons.
Legally, the Murrays own the fossils because they were discovered on their land. Phipps’ fossil hunting team kept the skeletons in a private laboratory. They spent years trying to persuade museums to buy them back, but failed to find anyone who would pay more than the minimum value of the fossils. In 2016, these two dinosaur skeletons caught the eye of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science and their sponsors.
Negotiations went on until past Murray business partners heard about the fossil and filed a lawsuit, alleging that they also had ownership of the two skeletons because they were still alive. holds certain mineral rights at the farm.
In June, after numerous lawsuits and appeals, a ruling was in favor of the Murray, allowing the sale to continue.
Phipps said he is proud that his discovery will eventually be made public for all to see.
“One day, I want to bring my nephew and say ‘Hey, grandpa you guys found those dinosaurs.” – I said. “Everyone will be watching them forever. That’s what I’ve always wanted“.