U.S. authorities in New York have returned a 70-million-year-old, nearly complete Tyrannosaurus skeleton to the Mongolian government.
Authorities say the skeleton was looted from the Gobi Desert. It was seized by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New York.
A Gainesville, Fla., fossils dealer pleaded guilty to smuggling charges in a cooperation deal last December.
The government said Eric Prokopi smuggled the bones into the U.S. then assembled them into a skeleton. It was sold by Dallas-based Heritage Auctions for over $1 million. The deal was suspended. The government said the dinosaur skeleton was mislabeled as reptile bones from Great Britain.
(Photo: The skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Bataar [buh-TAHR], the smaller cousin of the well-known T-Rex, will be returned to Magnolia. Christine Streich for WNYC)