Dinosaur skull seized in US tied to Mongolia case (Update)

Dec 03, 2012 by Bob Moen

(AP)—A dinosaur skull seized from a Wyoming home is related to an investigation into fossil smuggling from Mongolia, indicating that efforts to stem the illegal trade are making progress, an attorney said Monday.

Robert Painter, a Houston attorney representing Mongolia President Elbegdorj Tsakhia, said officials hoped that such seizures will have a chilling effect on smuggling.

"It's really part of what we hoped that would happen ... there would be increased awareness across the country of Mongolian law and the U.S. government is cooperating in protecting these cultural treasures," Painter said.

He predicted there will be more such cases as word gets out about the illegal sale of Mongolian dinosaur bones.

Louis Martinez, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said he couldn't release any details about the Wyoming case because the investigation was ongoing.

However, Martinez confirmed it was related to a case in which a Florida fossils dealer was recently charged with smuggling dinosaur bones, including a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton that was seized by the government in June in a civil forfeiture action.

The skeleton was sold at auction for $1.05 million before being seized by the government.

The government contends the bones were brought into the country illegally from Mongolia, which has laws that declare dinosaur fossils to be the property of the government.

The Tyrannosaurus Bataar was a dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period, about 70 million years ago.

The skull seized in Wyoming came from the same dinosaur species. The Tyrannosaurus Bataar is a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex—one of the most well-known dinosaurs that is commonly depicted in movies as a feared, voracious carnivore.

Painter said some people are willing to pay big money on the black market for dinosaur bones and Mongolia is one of the places where many bones were being dug up and transported against the law.

"The Mongolian government has learned that there is really a global marketplace for these illicit fossils and it was really something that was going on on a much larger scale than we were originally aware of," he said.

Explore further: Researchers create methylation maps of Neanderthals and Denisovans, compare them to modern humans

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Florida man charged in NY dinosaur fossils case

Oct 17, 2012

(AP)—A Florida man was charged Wednesday with smuggling dinosaur fossils into the United States, including a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton from Mongolia, federal prosecutors said.

US sues to force return of dinosaur to Mongolia

Jun 19, 2012

(AP) — The fossil of a dinosaur that roamed the earth 70 million years ago should be turned over to the United States by an auction house so that it can be returned to its home in Mongolia, a lawsuit brought by the U.S. ...

US seizes 'Ty' the dinosaur in NY

Jun 22, 2012

(AP) — The U.S. government seized a rare dinosaur skeleton Friday in what observers for the Mongolian government and a dinosaur expert called an important step toward returning the skeleton to its home in Mongolia.

Recommended for you

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

Apr 17, 2014

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

Apr 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rc_yvr
1 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2012
HLS better get on that right away. Those dinosaurs are "terror lizards".

More news stories

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...