T-rex named Sue returns to Black Hills

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HILL CITY, S.D. (AP) - A Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue has returned to the Black Hills on the big screen more than 20 years after she was unearthed.

Hill City residents lined up at the town’s high school Saturday for a screening of “Dinosaur 13, which tells the story of the dinosaur caught in a complex legal battle over ownership, KOTA television reported (http://bit.ly/1kJSFi6 ).

The fossils were more than 90 percent complete when they were discovered by Peter Larson, the head of Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, and his team in 1990, missing only a foot, one arm and a few ribs and vertebrae.

“She was the town’s dinosaur,” Larson said. “Hill City and the community had really adopted this dinosaur.”

Sue is named after fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson, who was working with Larson on Aug. 12, 1990, when she discovered the dinosaur on a Cheyenne River Indian Reservation ranch operated by Maurice Williams. After writing Williams a check for $5,000, Larson and his staff excavated the fossils and brought them back to Hill City.

In May 1992, federal agents seized the dinosaur as evidence in a criminal case against the institute and company employees. Nearly all of the charges eventually were dropped, but Larson was sentenced to two years in federal prison on unrelated counts involving failure to report some financial matters and taking fossils from federal lands.

Meanwhile, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs stepped in and argued that the institute had no right to take Sue because the bones had been removed illegally from lands held in trust for Williams by the federal government. A judge agreed and gave custody back to Williams, who put the fossils up for auction.

Chicago’s Field Museum purchased the 67 million-year-old dinosaur at auction for $8.4 million in 1997.

“She’s still there and is visited by millions of people,” said Kristin Donnan Standard, author of “Rex Appeal.”

The film is set to reach Rapid City theaters in mid-August.

“It’s a good story from beginning to end,” said Patrick Duffy, an attorney who represented Larson in the case. “And yet it still contains a lot that will surprise people. It’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of the whole story.”

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Information from: KOTA-TV, http://www.kotatv.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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