World Bulletin / News Desk
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.
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.
At the request of the Mongolian government, a U.S. District judge in Dallas issued a restraining order preventing the skeleton from being moved or the ownership transferred while the dispute is pending.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking the forfeiture of the nearly intact skeleton and its return to the Mongolian government.
In New York, U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel on Tuesday issued an order to seize the fossil, ruling there was probable cause it was subject to forfeiture under federal laws.
"From a legal standpoint, the U.S. government's lawsuit shifts the burden of proof from Mongolia to Heritage and others who might make a claim to its ownership," Painter said.
Heritage officials have said they will continue to cooperate with authorities. They say the skeleton was legally obtained and brought to auction by a reputable consignor.
"We believe our consignor purchased fossils in good faith, then spent a year of his life and considerable expense identifying, restoring, mounting and preparing what had previously been a much less valuable matrix of unassembled, underlying bones and bone fragments," Jim Halperin, co-chairman of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement. "We sincerely hope there is a just and fair outcome for all parties."
Federal officials said smugglers made false statements about the skeleton when it was imported into the United States from Britain in 2010. The skeleton did not originate in Britain nor was its value only $15,000 as claimed, they said.
The skeleton was discovered in 1946 during a joint Soviet-Mongolian expedition to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia's Omnogovi Province, Bharara said. Mongolia has had laws in place since 1924 prohibiting the export of dinosaur fossils that are considered national treasures and government property.
Heritage Auctions and the Mongolian government agreed in May to jointly investigate the ownership of the skeleton. Several paleontologists examined the skeleton several weeks ago and determined it was removed from the western Gobi Desert in Mongolia between 1995 and 2005.
Scientists had to abseil and scubadive to get into the caves, some of which are around 50 metres deep (165 feet). They found wall paintings and bone fragments left by the indigenous Kawesqar people that could help date the caves.
Asteroids have broken apart many times over the eons, but never before have scientists been able to witness it.
Should these ships become a reality, a total of 44% of expenses could be cut from operating cargo ships, according to industry consultant Moore Stephens LLP.
Earthuquake lights sometimes appear in the sky before an earthquake takes place and are often mistaken for UFOs.
Remains of the new species were unearthed in Portugal by an amateur fossil hunter in 2003 in the rock cliffs of Lourinhã
The females of an Asian swallowtail butterfly species known as the Common Mormon often mimic the appearance of another species of butterfly that is toxic for predators to eat
Scientists from Turkey designed 'the smart infrared cameras' to deal with dense fog related flight delays which cause thousands of flights to be postponed or cancelled each year.
Artificial muscles can bear 117 times more than natural muscles.
Scientific works by students aged between 11 and 15 in invention and design categories will take part in the olympiad.
GCHQ collected images from the webcam chats of more than 1.8 million users globally in a six-month period in 2008 alone
NASA'a Kelper telescope has discovered 715 new planets outside of our solar system.
The vault, which was designed to withstand all disasters, was opened in 2008 in order to store an adequate amount of seeds which would enable the human species to revive lost crops in the event of global disaster.
A cybersecurity firm said that it uncovered stolen credentials from some 360 million accounts that are available for sale on cyber black markets
NASA says about 100 tons of material from space enter Earth's atmosphere every day. The moon, with no protective atmosphere, is fair game for celestial pot-shots
"When or if the NSA blurs the line between its defensive and intelligence-gathering roles and exploits a position of trust, that's a problem," head of security pioneer RSA said
Co-founder of WhatsApp announces that telephone calls can be made via WhatsApp.