US to return more smuggled dinosaurs to Mongolia

Dinosaur fossils displayed during a repatriation ceremony in New York on 6 May
Image caption The Tyrannosaurus handed back on Monday is thought to date from the Cretaceous period

The US is to return more than a dozen illegally smuggled dinosaur skeletons to Mongolia.

The announcement follows the handing over to Mongolian officials on Monday of a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus bataar at a ceremony in New York.

The latest group includes two more Tyrannosaurus bataars, six Oviraptors and several Gallimimuses.

The Mongolian government has announced its intention to open a dinosaur museum to display the skeletons.

"The recovery of this treasure trove of dinosaur fossils is the latest significant step in returning missing pieces of the Mongolian people's history that were literally dug out from under them," US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

"We simply cannot allow the greed of a few looters and schemers to trump the cultural interests of an entire nation... We look forward to returning these fossils to their rightful owner - the government of Mongolia," US customs official James T Hayes said.

A Florida fossils dealer admitted smuggling the bones of the Tyrannosaurus which was handed back on Monday, which sold at auction for more than $1m (£643,000).

US officials say the dinosaurs were smuggled into the US between 2010 and 2012.

The export of fossils is banned under Mongolian law.

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