Smuggled dinosaur skeleton returned to Mongolia

Originally posted on KFWB 980:

NEW YORK (AP) — It may be the first time a dead dinosaur is flying for free.

U.S. authorities in New York are returning a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton to the Mongolian government this week.

The artifact will be flown to its native land free of charge via Korean Air, U.S. and Mongolian officials said Monday while announcing the repatriation of the priceless artifact.

“We are very pleased to have played a pivotal role in returning Mongolia’s million-dollar baby,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. “Of course, that million-dollar price tag, as high as it is, doesn’t begin to describe the true value of an ancient artifact that is part of the fabric of a country’s natural history and cultural heritage.”

The skeleton had been looted from Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and illegally smuggled into the U.S. by fossils dealer Eric Prokopi, authorities said. Prokopi, who bought and sold whole and partial dinosaur…

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