How was Ida found?
We do not know who found Ida, just that she was found in 1983. At the time, it was illegal for private individuals to collect fossils, and the find was kept secret. However, in 1996 German authorities declared an amnesty for all fossil finds unearthed in Messel before 1995. Now the owner was free to sell Ida on the open market.
That did not happen before in December 2006, when the seller Thomas Perner contacted Jørn Hurum and Hans Arne Nakrem on the fossil fair in Hamburg. During a couple of – by now quite renowned! – umbrella-adorned drinks, he showed Hurum and Nakrem a photograph of Ida.
Hurum felt his heartbeat accelerating. He immediately understood that he was looking at a possible world sensation. He hardly slept for two nights. All he could think about was how to secure this find for science.
Back at The Natural History Museum in Oslo, he told the then-director of the museum, Elen Roaldset, about the find. Roaldset saw the possibilities right away, and in spite of the fact that the museum received no support from the central administration of the University of Oslo, she convinced the museum’s board of directors that this was worth the gamble. The museum paid several million Norwegian kroner for the fossil, which put a considerable financial strain on the institution.
Initially, only a part of the sum was transferred. Fossils can be faked, but the interior of bones cannot be falsified. X-ray investigations showed that the fossil was genuine, and the transaction was completed.