London: Million dollar dino! The US has returned a 70-million-year-old skeleton of a dinosaur which was smuggled from Mongolia and auctioned for more than USD one million.
The near-complete skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus bataar was handed over to Mongolian officials at a ceremony in New York earlier this week.
Mongolia had demanded the return of the dinaosaur last year after a commercial paleontologist sold it at a Manhattan auction last year for USD 1.05 million.
The US officials seized the bones last year after Mongolia said they were stolen, `BBC News` reported.
"We are very pleased to have played a pivotal role in returning Mongolia`s million-dollar baby," US Attorney Preet Bharara said.
"Of course, that million-dollar price tag, as high as it is, doesn`t begin to describe the true value of an ancient artifact that is part of the fabric of a country`s natural history and cultural heritage," said Bharara.
Mongolian Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Oyungerel Tsedevdamba said they would be setting up a new dinosaur museum, as "we never had dinosaurs` museum before".
In March 2010, the bones of the dinosaur, discovered in the Gobi Desert, were smuggled into the US from UK.
Mongolia has laws that protect fossils - they are the property of the state and their export is banned, the report said.