Florida Man Admits to Smuggling Dinosaur Fossils

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Eric Prokopi of Florida admitted to smuggling the bones of a 70-million year old Tyrannosaurus bataar from Mongolia into the United States. He auctioned the bones in June for over $1 million. The fossils were later seized by the U.S. government when Mongolia reported them stolen. During plea-bargaining Prokopi admitted to smuggling a series of other bones, and gave up claim to the Tyrannosaurus and any profit from it. Additionally, Prokopi confessed to bringing a Chinese flying dinosaur, two oviraptors, and the duckbilled Saurolophus fossil into the country illegally. He can face up to seventeen years in prison after sentencing in April.

Since Prokopi’s admission, the United States government has begun the process of tracking down the rightful owners of the fossils and returning them. Mongolia alleges that the Tyrannosaurus was stolen out of the Gobi desert, and is petitioning its return. A second Tyrannosaurus skeleton, and an oviraptor skeleton was found at Prokopi’s Gainsville

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home. Another oviraptor skeleton was found in another residence in Florida. The Saurolophus skeleton was auctioned in California brining in $750,000, only to be later seized by authorities. The bones are believed to be from Mongolia and China.

Source courtesy of BBC. Image courtesy of CF News 13.