U.S. returning looted Tyrannosaurus skeleton to Mongolia

A 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton dubbed ÒSamsonÓ is displayed at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Credit: Getty Images
A 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton dubbed ÒSamsonÓ is displayed at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino.
Credit: Getty Images

A 70-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton from the Gobi Desert that was smuggled to the United States in pieces and auctioned for more than $1 million was returned on Monday by the U.S. government to Mongolia.

The huge Tyrannosaurus bataar’s skull was on display at a repatriation ceremony near the United Nations in New York, where officials of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and the U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) formally turned over the nearly complete skeleton to Mongolian officials.

Mongolia demanded the return of the 8-foot-tall (2.4 meter), 24-foot-long (7.3 meter), mostly reconstructed cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex last year after commercial paleontologist Eric Prokopi sold it at a Manhattan auction last spring for $1.05 million.

Prokopi, based in Gainesville, Florida, bought and sold whole and partial fossilized dinosaur skeletons.

U.S. authorities filed charges against Prokopi in October and seized the skeleton, which is comprised of fossilized bones welded to a metal frame.

“This is one of the most important repatriations of fossils in recent years,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. “We cannot allow the greed of a few looters and schemers to trump the cultural interests of an entire nation.”

Morton said the repatriation would “undo a great wrong by returning this priceless dinosaur skeleton to the people of Mongolia.”

Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj thanked U.S. prosecutors, judges, investigators and paleontologists in a statement: “Our two countries are separated by many miles, but share a passion for justice and a commitment to putting an end to illegal smuggling.”

In addition to the skeleton, the United States is also helping to return more fossils to Mongolia, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

The Tyrannosaurus bataar lived some 70 million years ago in what is now Mongolia, and its skeleton was discovered in 1946 in a joint Soviet-Mongolian expedition to the Gobi Desert, according to court and federal documents.

It was imported to the United States in 2010 from Great Britain, with customs documents that falsely claimed it originated in Great Britain and was valued at $15,000, far below its auction price.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.