Yukon man seeks $12M for space rock damage
A Yukon mining prospector claims federal geologists stole a priceless piece of meteorite he found in the 1980s that contained alien organisms, but RCMP say they haven't found any evidence to support that allegation.
The Yukon Supreme Court is hearing the case of Mayo-based prospector Dan Sabo this week.
Sabo accuses the Geological Survey of Canada of swindling him out of what he believes is a priceless rock with crystal-like alien lifeforms on it.
He is demanding $12 million in compensation.
Court has heard that Sabo found the pear-shaped meteorite on his mining claims in 1986. He held onto it until 1998, at which time he noticed green crystals growing out of a crevice in the rock.
Growths not alien: scientists
Sabo said he believes the growths were extraterrestrial and that his space rock was priceless. He submitted the specimen to the Geological Survey of Canada, which confirmed the rock to be a meteorite.
Sabo claims the rock was returned to him a year later without the crystal formations and with a 40-gram chunk of it missing. He has insisted that the original rock was actually stolen and replaced with a worthless replica.
In court Thursday, Const. Dan Parlee of the Yukon RCMP's commercial crimes unit testified that there was no way to determine who may have altered Sabo's rock since it had passed through so many hands since it was first weighed.
Parlee, who investigated Sabo's complaint, said scientists told him the lifeforms on the meteorite were simply nickel bloom, a phenomenon that occurs when nickel-laden rocks oxidize.
"Besides, I don't believe in extraterrestrial life," Parlee said in court Thursday.
Richard Herd, the Geological Survey of Canada's earth materials curator, testified on Wednesday that initial testing of Sabo's specimen suggested it was likely an iron meteorite, worth not more than $2,000.
"He wanted $10,000, and I was getting tired of being accused of theft and fraud," Herd told the court. "We're honest brokers. Why would I risk my reputation?"
Sabo, who is representing himself, said he had kept his space rock at his parents' New Mexico home for 12 years while he looked around for potential buyers.
It was only in 1998, after he had brought the rock to his Yukon cabin, that he set the rock on his windowsill and saw the crystals forming on it. He tried unsuccessfully to market his find in the United States before contacting the Geological Survey of Canada.
Earlier this week, three of Sabo's friends testified that Sabo excitedly showed them the microscopic crystals growing from his rock.
The rock that the Geological Survey of Canada gave back to him was smaller and lighter than the original, and the crystal growths had been removed, his friends testified.
Sabo's civil lawsuit is being heard this week by Alberta court Justice Adam Germain, who has been brought to Whitehorse to hear the case.