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The US government has seized the world's largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton after an Indian tribe charged that the dinosaur bones were illegally excavated.

Thirty FBI agents on May 14 sealed off the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City and took three days to pack up the bones along with institute files on the dinosaur, nicknamed Sue for the woman who found it.

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The FBI put the bones in a vault at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City until the issue is settled - probably in court.

The institute excavated the dinosaur in 1990, paying Maurice Williams $5,000 for the right to dig on his land on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and keep whatever it found.

However, Mr. Williams's land is held in trust by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which means he needs federal permission to sell antiquities found there. Tribal leaders charged that he did not have such permission.

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