Where did Ida live?
Ida was found in 1983 in the Messel Pit, a disused oil-shale quarry near the German city of Frankfurt. At the time, the pit was about to become a garbage dump. It was widely known that it contained a great number of unique fossils, and both professionals and amateurs were involved in an intense fossil hunt, endeavouring to unearth the goodies before opportunity was lost.
In 1995 the plans for a garbage dump were finally abandoned, and The Messel Pit was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the German authorities now faced a new problem: What were they to do about all the fossils which had wound up in private hands?
Privately owned fossils are not available for research. In order to draw conclusions and allow other researchers to validate them, the fossils must be available in public museums for researchers to study. With all these fossils in private hands, there was a risk that valuable knowledge would be lost because the owners feared prosecution for illegal fossil hunting.
German authorities therefore decided to declare a general amnesty for fossils unearthed before 1995. Thus the owner of Ida could now legally sell her, if she or he wished to.