pounds 11m price-tag placed on dinosaur footprints
Ourem, central Portugal
Jurassic dinosaur footprints more than 170 million years old face destruction by mechanical diggers unless a Portuguese quarry-owner receives pounds 11m compensation from the Lisbon government. The tracks, discovered in July last year during routine excavation of the limestone hills in Ourem, have been assessed by palaeontologists as the longest and best-preserved in the world.
Rui Galinha, whose father started the quarry 35 years ago, parked in the middle of a vast, slightly tilted field of rock and pointed out the footprints that form 20 separate tracks criss-crossing 18 acres. He said: "I would be very sorry if the tracks had to be destroyed, but I have a business to run. I have been waiting 14 months and the government has done nothing. My company is suffering and I am having to lay off workers."
An American geologist, Martin Lockley, who examined the tracks said: "The site is quite unique in the world for displaying the best examples of brontosaur tracks known anywhere. "It is also important because the Middle Jurassic [167-187 million years ago] is a poorly-known epoch in geologic history, akin to the Dark Ages."
Mr Galinha said Ernest Young, an English property company, valued the site at pounds 11m, so he gave the government an ultimatum: it paid up by the end of August, or he would start digging. He was running out of stone to meet his contractual agreements, and running out of capital to invest in new machinery.
But the Socialist leader, Antonio Guterres, appealed in mid-campaign for Mr Galinha to stay his hand until after the general election, which his party won. "He promised he would preserve the site, but he would have to negotiate the price," Mr Galinha said.
He said villagers in nearby Bairro had built a 10ft model of a dinosaur that stands beside the football pitch, a huge egg by its side. "If the next prime minister doesn't solve this problem soon, they say they're going to take this dinosaur to Lisbon and dump it on his doorstep."
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
Nepal earthquake in pictures: Photos show devastation caused by 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Royal baby: Live updates as superbug closes ward at St Mary's Hospital in London where Duchess of Cambridge is due to give birth
Nepal earthquake: Rescuers forced to dig with their bare hands in search for survivors as images show damage to historic buildings
Ed Miliband and Boris Johnson in angry clash live on BBC's Andrew Marr Show
Bali Nine executions: British grandmother on death row in Indonesia Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...