Victory Against Illegal Fossil Smuggling

A ceremony was held this week in New York to mark the return of twenty-three dinosaur fossils to Mongolia.  Investigators from U.S. Immigration and Customs were able to retrieve the illegally smuggled fossils, from Wyoming and from New York, the specimens were handed over to officials representing the Mongolian government.

A Fossil of the Basal Horned Dinosaur Protoceratops Handed Over to Mongolian Officials

Part of the haul of 23 dinosaur fossils returned to Mongolia.

Part of the haul of 23 dinosaur fossils returned to Mongolia.

Picture Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs

 It has been illegal for many years for such important artefacts to leave Mongolia, however, despite stringent attempts by the authorities fossil smuggling, especially dinosaur fossil smuggling is rife.  Smugglers, excavators and middle men can earn thousands of U.S. dollars via the black market in rare items such as dinosaur skulls, fossil eggs and dinosaur bones.

One of the exhibits being returned is a beautifully preserved dinosaur nest containing fourteen little dinosaur eggs (see picture below)

The Protoceratops Dinosaur Nest Being Repatriated to Mongolia

A nest of dinosaur eggs being returned to Mongolia by U.S. Customs officials.

A nest of dinosaur eggs being returned to Mongolia by U.S. Customs officials.

Picture Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs

Many of the items have been extensively prepared and mounted ready for display in private collections.  Commenting on the success of the fossil recovery operation a spokesperson from Everything Dinosaur stated:

“We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the parties involved in achieving such a successful conclusion to this investigation.  International co-operation and understanding is helping to stem the flow of illegal fossils being smuggled out of Mongolia.

The haul also contains the mounted skull of a member of the Tyrannosauridae (Tyrannosaur family), the dinosaur concerned is Alioramus remotus, this lightly-built predator is only known from a few fragmentary, scrappy remains so the return of skull material to Mongolia, permitting scientists to study this fossil in detail is particularly significant.

The Alioramus remotus Skull Being Repatriated to Mongolia

Part of a dinosaur fossil haul being repatriated to Mongolia.

Part of a dinosaur fossil haul being repatriated to Mongolia.

Picture Credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs

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