Wednesday, 18 January 2012 by Keith Bahlmann
Author Russell Ferrell will be a guest speaker at the Tri-Cities Gem and Mineral Society to discuss his book "Acrocanthosaurus - The Bones of Contention," from 7:30-9 p.m. on Jan. 10 at the Grace Presbyterian Church of Temple (2401 S. 57th St.).
The book is a true story about the discovery and excavation of the Acrocanthosaurus (Oklahoma's State Dinosaur) and the struggles and battles of the two excavators, Cephis Hall and Sid Love, for possession and ownership rights to the fossilized treasure.
The discovery was made near the Mountain Fork River in southeastern Oklahoma in 1983 and dug out of a corporate waste-holding pit over a period of four years. The Corporation had given the two men permission to dig, but did not take their excavation seriously.
After the corporation learned the value of the dinosaur, the two amateurs were forced to battle the Corporation and its friends in government and academia over ownership rights to the dinosaur.
The story played out over a period of two decades and the dinosaur eventually sold for $3 million to the North Carolina Museum of Science as an unfinished specimen – the highest price ever paid for an unfinished and uncasted dinosaur skeleton.
The Acrocanthosaurus, an extremely rare find, became the State Dinosaur of Oklahoma on June 6, 2007, when a bill granting that distinction was passed into law by the Oklahoma State Legislature.
The excavation marked the first time in history when two amateurs (rockhounds) had successfully excavated a major dinosaur quarry totally independent of any back-up financial or logistical support from a major university or commercial fossil entity.
This was also the first (and only) articulated skeleton ever found of this horrific apex predator that ruled the North American continent during the Early Cretaceous (145-100 mya).
Until this recovery, only a few scattered pieces of the creature had been found and identified.
This single discovery allowed scientists to put the puzzle together and construct a full-cast replica of this giant carnivorous monster.
This was truly one of the greatest dinosaur discoveries (and excavations) in the history of paleontology.
The specimen was nicknamed Fran after the wife of Allan Graffham, a commercial paleontologist in Ardmore, Okla., who purchased the dinosaur from Hall and Love for $250,000 and spent $1 million for preparation work at the Black Hills Institute before finalizing his sale to the North Carolina Museum of Science in Raleigh for $3 million.
A full- cast replica of the monster is on display at the Museum of the Red River in Idabel, Okla.
The book blends science and history with an amazing epic adventure story.
Ferrell is an educator and historical non-fiction writer who stopped work on several other projects to tell Hall and Love's story. He currently lives in Red Oak.
For more information about Russell Ferrell, visit www.thebonesofcontention.com.