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Dinosaur Skeleton Sparks Heated Legal Battle

U.S. Files Lawsuit Over Disputed Dinosaur Skeleton
U.S. Attorneys' Office

In what surely qualifies as the first-ever custody battle over a dinosaur, the US government is suing to recover a 70-million-year-old skeleton they say was illegally brought to America from Mongolia in 2010.

The fossilized remains of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, which is a relative to the larger T-Rex, were originally unearthed in 1946 during a Soviet-Mongolian expedition to the Gobi Desert. Last month, the bones were sold by Texas-based Heritage Auctions, Inc. in New York City for a cool $1 million.

Since then, the auction company has agreed to help determine who ultimately owns the bones, and a state district judge in Dallas granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the transfer of ownership.

Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara has vowed to return the skeleton to Mongolia, where he says it was “looted from the Gobi desert,” and Mongolian president Tsakhia Elbegdorj has expressed gratitude over the coordinated effort between the two countries.

“Cultural looting and profiteering cannot be tolerated anywhere and this cooperation between our governments is a large step forward to stopping it,” Elbegdorj said.

But what does Dr. Ian Malcolm think?

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