Baden-Württemberg: Incorrect information: Baden-Württemberg returns dinosaur fossils

More than 100 million years after its death, the dinosaur Ubirajara jubatus triggered a dispute between Baden-Württemberg and Brazil.

Baden-Württemberg: Incorrect information: Baden-Württemberg returns dinosaur fossils

More than 100 million years after its death, the dinosaur Ubirajara jubatus triggered a dispute between Baden-Württemberg and Brazil. The Minister of Science took a clear position, but now has to admit mistakes. This has consequences for a museum.

Karlsruhe/Rio de Janeiro (dpa/lsw) - U-turn in the dispute over a dinosaur fossil: Unlike a few months ago, Baden-Württemberg now considers the acquisition of the fossilized remains from the Cretaceous period to be illegal and wants to return them to Brazil. The Ministry of Science announced on Monday that the background was false information from the Natural History Museum in Karlsruhe. "I very much regret this misconduct," said Minister Theresia Bauer (Greens). The museum must now check whether there are other objects in the collection with comparably unclear circumstances of acquisition.

The Palaeontological Society in Brazil had complained that the fossil of the dinosaur Ubirajara jubatus had been illegally taken out of the country. In September, the Ministry of Science then stated that "the facts had been comprehensively examined and all available documents on the import and acquisition of the fossil in question had been submitted. After their evaluation, it turned out that there were no indications of unlawful acquisition by the Natural History Museum in Karlsruhe are".

Now the change of opinion: "According to the assessment of the Ministry of Science, the circumstances surrounding the import of the fossil are not clear, and there are doubts as to the legality of the acquisition of ownership by the state of Baden-Württemberg," quoted the "Badische Latest News" and the "Südwest Presse". on Monday from a template for the cabinet meeting this Tuesday. The export to Germany violated Brazilian law.

A ministry spokeswoman explained that the information provided by the Natural History Museum later turned out to be incorrect. The museum then admitted that it had initially made incorrect statements to the ministry. In addition, it was unable to provide any documentation that could have supported previous statements. A museum spokeswoman only referred to the ministry on request.

Bauer emphasized: "Baden-Württemberg has taken a clear position on questions relating to the provenance of cultural assets and has systematically fulfilled its responsibilities in recent years." This also applies to the dinosaur fossil. "It is important that with the return we send a clear signal about the correct handling of collection items, their provenance and scientific honesty." With regard to the examination of other objects in the Karlsruhe Museum, the minister warned: "The clarification of the acquisition circumstances of collection objects is a task that must be fulfilled."

Ubirajara jubatus is from the Cretaceous period and lived about 110 to 115 million years ago. The carnivore, which is only about one meter tall, is said to be the first feathered but flightless dinosaur in the southern hemisphere. The fossil was found in a quarry between the municipalities of Nova Olinda and Santana do Cariri in the Crato Formation in the state of Ceará in northeastern Brazil.

The dispute involved, among other things, a UNESCO Convention on measures to prohibit and prevent the illegal import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property, which came into force on April 26, 2007. In September, the Ministry of Science declared that the fossil had been brought to Germany legally before this date and that it was not necessary to return it. In a scientific essay describing the dinosaur for the specialist magazine Cretaceous Research, it was said that the fossil came to Germany in 1995. Because of the dispute, the article has since been withdrawn. The ministry has now announced: "The date stated in the scientific publication has been proven to have been incorrectly claimed by the authors."

Selling fossils abroad has been banned under Brazilian law since 1990. Petrified remains may only be taken out of the country as a loan for scientific purposes under certain conditions - the Brazilian state remains the owner. The scientists in the largest country in Latin America did not give up and declared: "We will not stop fighting for our natural and cultural heritage."

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