New York – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) returned on Tuesday the fossilized remains of six dinosaur species to the Mongolian government. The fossils were smuggled out of that country into The United States but they were recovered by HSI as a result of investigations in Wyoming and New York.

As claimed by Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Robert Capers, the fossilized remains were unlawfully removed from their country of origin. So, a repatriation ceremony for the return of the fossils was held this Tuesday in New York. Ceremonial certificates transferred back ownership of the fossils from the United States to Mongolia, the country where the fossils were stolen from.

A fossil of a dinosaur seized by U.S. customs officials. Among the smuggled finds was an incredibly rare, 70-million-year-old dinosaur skull. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Handout Reuters

Capers said during the ceremony that they were very proud of their role in restoring this rich paleontological heritage to the Mongolian people and taking these cultural treasures from the hands of looters and smugglers. He also said the country stand beside the people of Mongolia by disrupting the international trade in smuggled fossils and returning them to their home where they will be studied and treasured.

The ceremony was also attended by the Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations Robert E. Perez and the Mongolian Ambassador to the United States Altangerel Bulgaria.

“These are not souvenirs to be sold to the highest of bidders. They are irreplaceable priceless pieces of a country’s history, its identity, and its national heritage.” Perez said during the ceremony.

Six different types fossil species heading back

The different pieces returning to Mongolia include nearly complete skeletons of Bactrosaurus, Protoceratops baby skeleton pieces, Psittacosaurus, a nest of Protoceratops eggs, and the skulls of an Alioramus and a Psittacosaurus.

According to paleontologist Bolortsetseg Minjin, the Alioramus is a very rare dinosaur, as only two specimens have been reported in scientific literature.

Mongolian patrimony laws not only prohibit the export of dinosaur fossils, it also forbids the private ownership of these items.

Source: Fox 5 NY