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After controversy, dinosaur fossil returns to Brazil

After controversy, dinosaur fossil returns to Brazil

This celebratory image shows Brazilian researchers and government officials gathered around a prized fossil of the dinosaur Ubirajara jubatus. The fossil, newly returned to Brazil from Germany, sparked an outcry in late 2020 after palaeontologists published a now-retracted paper about it.

The 110-million-year-old specimen represents the first non-avian dinosaur to be found in South America with structures that seem to be precursors to feathers. None of the authors on the paper was from Brazil, and it was suggested that the removal of the fossil from the country was illegal.

A campaign ensued to return the fossil from Germany, where it was being stored in a museum, as part of a movement denouncing colonialism in palaeontology. “I hope that this recognition by Germany will be an inspiration for other countries that hold, in unclear circumstances, other specimens of Brazilian palaeontological biodiversity,” said Luciana Santos,

Brazil’s minister of science, technology and innovation, during a 12 June event in Brasilia at which the fossil was returned, following a long negotiation between countries. It will now be housed at the Plácido Cidade Nuvens Palaeontological Museum in Santana do Cariri, near where the fossil had been found.