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Fossil Bones At Center Of Lawsuit Dispute
Monday, 05-Apr-2010 7:44PM United Press International
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BALTIMORE, April 5 (UPI) -- The discovery of 10-million-year-old fossil whale bones in a Maryland cliff has led to a lawsuit over ownership and property rights, parties to the suit say.

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The bones were observed two years ago below the cliff-top home of Shmuel Rotenstreich, a 63-year-old computer scientist living in Chesapeake Ranch Estates. When asked by a paleontologist from a local museum if he minded their excavating the bones, Rotenstreich said he didn't, The Baltimore Sun reported Monday.

"He's a scientist. I'm a scientist, too", Rotenstreich said. "So I said, 'Obviously not.'"

After five months of digging, the local community association filed a suit against Rotenstreich and the museum, claiming that neither the cliff nor the skeleton belonged to him, the newspaper said.

The association had a survey made to prove it owned the cliff face and told the museum it was trespassing.

In its lawsuit, the association wants the court to affirm its ownership and its right to control access to the cliffs. It also wants to keep the museum from entering the property without permission and it wants to recover legal costs of $140,000, John A. Eney, president of the Property Owners' Association of Chesapeake Ranch Estates, said.

With an out-of-court settlement unlikely, the suit is headed to court, the Sun reported.

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