US returns stolen $1 million Tyrannosaurus to Mongolia, as Asian nation builds 'dinosaur museum' in tribute to 70-million-year-old skeleton
The United States has returned a stolen, 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton to Mongolia.
At a ceremony in New York on Monday, US officials formally handed the near-complete skeleton back to representatives from the Mongolian government, prompting an announcement of the construction of the Asian nation’s first dinosaur museum.
The bones were originally seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers after a 38-year-old man from Florida sold them at auction for £1 million.
Eric Prokopi - described by investigators as a “one-man black market in prehistoric fossils” - admitted smuggling the bones from the UK in March 2010, and assembling them into a full skeleton before sale.
It is believed the bones were originally looted from the Gobi Desert sometime between 1995 and 2005, working their way into Europe via a network of illegal fossil dealers shortly after.
Prokopi apparently managed to smuggle the 8 feet tall, 24 feet long skeleton out of the UK by deliberately mislabelling it as a worthless collection of reptile bones.
US Attorney Preet Bharara said: “We are very pleased to have played a pivotal role in returning Mongolia’s million-dollar baby… Of course, that million-dollar price tag, as high as it is, doesn’t begin to describe the true value of an ancient artefact that is part of the fabric of a country’s natural history and cultural heritage.”
Mongolia President Tsakhia Elbegdorj thanked US authorities for returning the dinosaur, saying it will eventually be displayed as a centrepiece of a new museum called the Central Dinosaur Museum of Mongolia.
Mongolia has strict laws protecting. Fossils they are the property of the state and their export is banned.
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 4 A Chinese journalist has appeared on state television 'confessing' to causing the stock market chaos
Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
The man who sold Minecraft to Microsoft for £2.5 billion says it's made him miserable
Nazi 'gold train': Fire engulfs suspected location of vehicle in Poland
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...
£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...