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I swear this is a real story and not the result of some fever dream or an inspired round of gossip item word scramble. Famed kooky actor-type Nicolas Cage — known for having a penchant for outlandish purchases — has been forced to return a dinosaur skeleton head he'd picked up because it turns out it's stolen.

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The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan filed for forfeiture last week to return the Tyrannosaurus bataar skull to the government of Mongolia. Cage has not been named in the filing and is not accused of any wrongdoing. When he procured the dino skull in 2007 for $276,000, he was assured by the seller — Beverly Hills gallery I.M. Chait — that it was authentic and on the up and up. But the authorities, it seems, found a way.

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Cage has cooperated fully in returning it. He originally outbid Leonardo DiCaprio for the skull — just one more trophy Leo can't seem to get his hands on.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick

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