Monday, December 08, 2014

A T. Rex named Sue

One of the highlights of last summer was seeing Sue at the Field Museum in Chicago. She is magnificent, and if you're in town you should stop by. You may even want to make a trip just to see the largest T. Rex ever found (and while you are there, checkout the whole collection. It's amazing).

Yesterday I spoke to a fellow rider up at Alice's and it turns out he's friends with Pete Larson, who found Sue. He had quite a story, as I was aware of (but have not seen) the movie, Dinosaur 13, about the dig and subsequent legal action. And then there's this Slate article.

What's remarkable about the Slate article is it's intemperate, hectoring tone. Slate isn't a news site, and so has no "moral" obligation for truth or an unbiased perspective, but the clumsiness in a diatribe calls out for some serious editing. Or maybe a writer with a little more style or humor.

Ironically, the first comment seems to be from this guy:
This story is a crock.  I worked for the Department of the Interior and was the lead Departmental Attorney working on this matter.  We even had to go to war against the then U.S. Attorney who wanted to give the fossil to the Smithsonian.  We were able to prove under the Antiquities Act and other law, that once the fossil became a permanent part of the land, since the land was held in restricted status, the sale of the item had to be approved by the BIA as required by Federal law.  Believe me, nobody involved, including DOI had clean hands in this case.  Hendrickson and crew knew that fossil was worth more than they originally paid Williams.  Williams was a slickster from way back.  The Tribe overstepped their reach by trying to pass an ex post facto law to take the fossil.  And the U.S. Attorney was grandstanding and trying to enhance his career until we had the Assistant Attorney General put him in his place.  In the end the fossil is probably where it should be, Hendrickson probably should have received some sort of finder's fee and the law is now clear on the issue.  Just another day in the world of Federal Indian Law.  
I don't know if he is who he claims, but what he says jives with what my motorcycle buddy told me. Williams, by the way, I believe passed away shortly after getting paid.

Internet anonymity is currently under some fire, but it pays to remember the old saying, if you want a man to tell the truth, give him a mask.

Go to Chicago and marvel at this amazing object.


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