The infamous T-rex has been made popular by everyone’s grade school science teacher and of course the legendary Jurassic Park films. But, the massive carnivore’s cousin, the Tyrannosaurus bataar, is the one making headlines lately after a stolen skull is being rightfully returned to the Mongolian government.
Back in 2006, the Tyrannosaurus bataar unlawfully entered the United States after it was stolen and sold to an anonymous buyer for $276,000. The 70 million year old dinosaur once roamed Mongolia’s Gobi Desert and is revered as a national artifact for the Mongolian government.
The skull grabbed the attention of Homeland Security earlier this year when a civil forfeiture complaint was filed in California. After close examinations, it was confirmed in September that the skull belonged to the Mongolian government and was to be returned to proper authorities. When the report hit, the anonymous buyer was revealed to be action hero Nicholas Cage. The famous actor purchased the skull at an auction and apparently outbid fellow Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio. Cage’s publicist said that the actor received an email showing the skull’s authenticity and was not contacted by authorities until 2014.
This isn’t the first time that the U.S. government has returned stolen artifacts to Mongolia. It’s previously surrendered three T-bataar skulls, plus six Ovirapotors, a Protocertatops, and various ancient reptiles.
The next time you head to the museum to check out the dinosaur visit, you might want to question where that skull came from.