Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed into law legislation that designates fossils belong to the surface estate owner. The first-of-its-kind protection addresses a contentious issue that has bedeviled landowners. “This was a very significant bill for our group,” Charles Denowh of United Property Owners of Montana told UPI. “We saw all sorts of unintended consequences that could have arisen if the precedent had become that the mineral estate owned dinosaur fossils. We saw a lot more conflicts happening between surface owners and mineral owners if that were the case.” Supporters cited a 1915 decision that “(f)ossil remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals are not mineral within the meaning of the United States mining laws.” Although the law does not affect current court cases, it arose in part out of the lengthy legal battle involving
“Dueling Dinosaurs,” a 2006 discovery involving ancient beasts locked in battle.
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