Sue stays put

  Two years ago, 28 FBI agents and National Guardsmen raided the Black Hills Geological Institute in South Dakota, seized a dinosaur named Sue, and carted her off to a basement in Rapid City (HCN, 9/21/92). Last October, the Supreme Court let stand an appeals court decision that ruled the agents had acted correctly in confiscating the 65-million-year-old allosaur fossil from a commercial dealer. Sue's Supreme Court ruling may mean more regulation for fossil prospectors, a bone of contention among paleontologists and commercial dealers. Some paleontologists say tighter rules are needed to prevent commercial dealers from keeping specimens from science, as private collectors can pay more than museums. Sue, for example, was valued at $5 million. But some scientists argue that scientists can rarely afford the large-scale excavations of commercial outfits. In the case of Sue, the court ruled that although the Black Hills Institute paid for permission to dig, it failed to get authorization from the federal government, which holds Cheyenne River Sioux land in trust. For now, Sue's remains remain in boxes under federal seal in Rapid City.


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