U.S. returns dinosaur fossils to Mongolia - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

U.S. returns dinosaur fossils to Mongolia

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Dinosaur jokes out of the mouth of a United States attorney celebrated the return of oviraptors, hadrosaurs, and one Tyrannosaurus bataar skeleton to the good people of Mongolia.

"This is a historic event for the U.S. Attorney's Office, in addition to being a prehistoric event," said U.S Attorney Preet Bharara. "So, how did we get here? First there was a meteor."

Then 65 million years later in 2012, an attorney blocked the sale of this monster's skeleton for $1 million.

Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement then determined said fossils had left Mongolia and arrived in America illegally.

"The act of smuggling an eight-foot-tall, 24-foot-long Tyrannosaurus skeleton past U.S. Customs officers at any airport in the country," said Jim Hayes of ICE. "Of course that's not what happened."

The smuggler broke this predator's skeleton down into hundreds of shipments. So fully deconstructed was this beast that when the United States returned it to Mongolia the smuggler had to preside over its reassembly. It now stands on display in the country where it died 70 million years ago.

"Fossil looting is a huge problem worldwide," said paleontologist Dr. Mark Norell. He said that for nearly half of the 1,200 dinosaur species we've identified we have only one specimen. So, this batch headed back to Mongolia to help that nation open its first natural history museum qualifies as extremely rare.

One graveyard of the oviraptor: "It's one piece of rock with four or five beasts from the Cretacious period," Bharara said.

One oviraptor egg: "Should it hatch in the way that the eggs from Jurassic Park did, you should know that was not part of the plan," he said.

And plenty of Jurassic period jokes we thought went extinct back in the 1990s predated the signing over of these prehistoric remains to the new rulers of the part of the world where these beasts used to reign.

 

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