Mongolian dinosaur skeleton goes home


The huge Tyrannosaurus bataar's skull, which is 70 million years old, was found in Mongolia, a country in Asia. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)
May 8, 2013

A 70-million-year-old tyrannosaur skeleton found in Asia is heading home this week.

The skeleton had been looted from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and illegally smuggled into the United States by fossils dealer Eric Prokopi, authorities said.

Prokopi, who bought and sold dinosaur skeletons out of his Florida home, imported the bones illegally by passing them off as reptile bones from Britain, then assembled them into a skeleton, authorities said.

The dinosaur was seized by federal agents after it was sold at auction in New York for more than $1 million last year.

By law, any dinosaur fossils found in Mongolia belong to the country and its people.

The skull and jawbone of a tyrannosaur were among the bones a Florida fossils dealer tried to pass off as reptile bones from Britain. (Richard Drew/AP)

Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj has thanked U.S. authorities for returning the dinosaur, which once stood eight feet tall and was 24 feet long.

It will eventually be displayed as a centerpiece of a new museum called the Central Dinosaur Museum of Mongolia.

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