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The feathered dinosaur fossil’s 1995 export from Brazil may have violated the country’s laws, Brazilian scientists say. Its scientific publication could be halted as a result.

One-of-a-kind dinosaur removed from Brazil sparks backlash, investigation

The dinosaur Ubirajara jubatus is the first known non-avian dinosaur with unusually prominent shoulder feathers. The fossil also has sparked controversy amid concern that the fossil's 1995 export from Brazil may have been illegal.


In 1995, a museum in southwestern Germany acquired an unusual fossil from the cream-colored limestone of northeastern Brazil: a 120-million-year-old dinosaur covered in an odd material that one scientist thought might be algae.

Now, 25 years later, scientists have confirmed the predator is one of a kind, the first feathered, non-avian dinosaur found in the Southern Hemisphere—and Brazilian scientists are calling for the fossil to be returned from Germany. Since the dinosaur, named Ubirajara jubatus, was unveiled on December 13 in the journal Cretaceous Research, days of online protests with the hashtag #UbirajaraBelongstoBR have questioned whether the scientifically invaluable fossil was exported legally.

“This need not be happening, as this fossil should never have left Brazil,” says Flaviana Lima, a paleontologist at the Regional University of Cariri in Crato, Brazil.

The Brazilian Society of Paleontology (SBP) announced on December 21 that it will work with Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development to investigate the legality of Ubirajara’s export to Germany. In addition, Cretaceous Research told the SBP that it would consider temporarily removing the Ubirajara study from its website, pending the investigation’s results. “The fight is not over yet,” the SBP said in a statement.

Study co-author Eberhard Frey, a paleontologist at the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe, where Ubirajara is being kept, says the samples were transported after receiving authorization from a Brazilian official. He added that he is discussing the Ubirajara situation with colleagues in Brazil. “I am sure we [will] find a solution,” he...

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