Saturday, September 6, 2014

Skull Of T-Rex Relative Smuggled Into United States From Mongolia

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Federal prosecutors say a 65-million-year-old dinosaur skull was smuggled into the U.S. by a French company that tried to pass the fossil off as a cheap replica.

Prosecutors say the skull and vertebrae of the Alioramus dinosaur arrived in New York in January with paperwork saying it was a cast worth about $3,400.

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and Homeland Security investigators say the company later admitted it was a genuine fossil from Mongolia worth at least $250,000.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said a stolen fossil of cultural and historical significance will not find safe haven in our ports.

The dinosaur is a relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Federal prosecutors say the skull must be forfeited. It will likely be returned to Mongolia, where national law prohibits the sale of such artifacts outside the country.

The company, Geofossiles, on Friday denied the fossil was smuggled.

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