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US Returning Smuggled Dinosaur to Mongolia

The fossil of a Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur will be returned to Mongolia after a Florida paleontologist smuggled it out of that country and sold it at auction for more than $1 million.
A nearly complete skeleton of a 70-million-year-old dinosaur will soon be returned to Mongolia.

Last year, a Florida paleontologist sold the skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus bataar at auction for more than $1 million.

U.S. authorities accused Eric Prokopi of lying on customs forms by declaring the fossilized bones to be worth $19,000. Prokopi pled guilty to fraud in December.

This week, a judge ordered the skeleton and other fossils turned over to the government. Prokopi faces at least 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in April.

Mongolian officials say the skeleton, which is 2.5 meters tall and seven meters long, was smuggled out of its fossil-rich Gobi Desert. After the auction, Mongolia demanded its return.

Tyrannosaurus bataar is a close cousin of the better-known T. rex.