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Fossil Seized in Jackson Part of Federal Investigation

Stan, the North American Tyrannosaurus Rex, is a mainstay of the Tate Geological Museum in Casper. The Tate Museum’s JP Cavigelli says that this species of T-Rex is closely related to the fossil confiscated from Jackson. (Photo by JP Cavigelli; courtesy of Casper Colege and the Tate Museum)

A federal Homeland Security Department official says a dinosaur skull seized from a Wyoming home is related to an investigation into fossil smuggling from Mongolia.

Louis Martinez of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations says he can’t release any more detail because the investigation is ongoing.

The fossil seized in Wyoming came from a Tarbosaurus and is worth between $250,000 and $400,000.

JP Cavigelli, of the Tate Geological Museum at Casper College, says “Tarbosaurus is so closely related to Tyrannosaurus. ¬†It was previously called Tyrannosaurus bataar. The differences are very technical.”

The dinosaur lived about 70 million years ago.

Federal officials recently seized a nearly complete Tarbosaurus skeleton that was sold at auction and arrested a Florida man for illegally importing dinosaur fossils.

Cavigelli went on to say that fossils found in Mongolia, where Tarbosaurus lived, are not allowed to leave that area, “Mongolia does not allow fossils to leave the country without a research permit, and even then, the fossils must eventually be returned to the country. Fossils in Mongolia are considered property of Mongolia.”

A U.S. attorney for the president of Mongolia says that country welcomes the increased awareness for the illegal trade of Mongolian fossils.

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