NEW YORK, June 19 (UPI) -- A Tyrannosaur fossil allegedly smuggled to the United States is to be returned to Mongolia, U.S. officials announced.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has intervened in a dispute over a fossil skeleton that was up for auction in New York at the end of May with a demand it be turned over to the U.S. government so it can be returned to Mongolia, The Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday.
Paleontologists and Mongolian officials have said the fossil of a type of tyrannosaur called a Tarbosaurus bataar was taken from Mongolia illegally.
The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges those importing it gave false information on customs forms and brought it into the United States knowing it had been stolen.
"The skeletal remains of this dinosaur are of tremendous cultural and historic significance to the people of Mongolia, and provide a connection to the country's prehistoric past," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
"When the skeleton was allegedly looted, a piece of the country's natural history was stolen with it, and we look forward to returning it to its rightful place."