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Disputed Tyrannosaur skeleton will soon be returned to Mongolia from US

The 70-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton, discovered in Mongolia, will soon be returned by the US to its home country. 

By Marice RichterReuters / June 22, 2012

An image from documents released from the U.S. Attorney's office Monday shows the fossil of a Tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur at the center of a lawsuit demanding its return to Mongolia.

U.S Attorney Office for the Southern District of New York/AP

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U.S. authorities said on Wednesday they expect this week to seize a 70-million-year-old dinosaur skeleton that was discovered in Mongolia more 65 years ago and now is stored in New York and at the center of an international legal dispute.

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A federal judge in New York has signed a warrant that allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to seize the skeleton of the Tyrannosaurus bataar - an Asian cousin of the North American Tyrannosaurus rex - from Dallas-based Heritage Auctions.

"We should have it by the end of the week," said Luis Martinez, a spokesman for U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The seizure will be a "major step forward" for the government of Mongolia, which is claiming sovereign ownership and seeking the skeleton's return, said Robert Painter, a Houston attorney who represents Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhia.

The skeleton - 8 feet (2.4m) tall and 24 feet (7.3m) long - has been stored in crates in New York City since Heritage sold it at auction to an unidentified buyer for more than $1 million on May 20.

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