A Texas doctor, who loves paleontology, is challenging the federal government in court for seizing a 70 million-year-old dinosaur skull from his fossil collection.
Dr. James Godwin disputes that the federal government waited too long to file a forfeiture claim after they seized his Tyrannosaurus bataar skull. The authorities contended the skull was among several fossils taken illegally out of Mongolia. Under the National Stolen Property Act, the government has five years once the offense occurs to file its forfeiture lawsuit.
The federal government said the fossil was taken from the Gobi Desert between 2001 to 2011 and was traded several times before ending up in Wyoming where Godwin obtained the skull.
However, Godwin’s attorney said the federal government’s chance to claim the fossil was outside the five-year window. According to Godwin’s attorney, the statute of limitations started when the government acquired facts about the fossil to start a sufficient investigation, not when the government decides to have sufficiently verified those facts.
A judge in Fort Worth said that on Tuesday that he will hear the case next week, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The skull is currently being held in the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana.