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Published: June 11th 2013
Mr. T-Rex HimselfWho stole the dinosaur? And THIS IS NOT A JOKE. We arrived in Ulaan Bataar (UB) just a day AFTER the smuggled dinosaur fossils were returned to Mongolia. May 18 was thus declared the new National Dinosaur Day. Yey! But wait, where would they put all these dinosaurs?
This lone dinosaur is NOT exactly the size in our imagination..... But hey, it's a dinosaur!
The Mongolian Museum of Natural History The Museum is said to be the oldest Museum in Mongolia, and it shows. The paint has peeled off many parts of the white building that now looks like an abandoned structure from the Soviet period. As soon as we entered, we set out to look for the resident dinosaur fossils and eggs.
T-Rex was "fully assembled" in a hall with poor lighting. It won't be lonely for long. And it would soon have a new home. The Mongolian government announced it would have a dedicated museum for dinosaur skeletons, fossils and eggs. With the return by the US government of more than a dozen dinosaur skeletons which were all illegally smuggled by a certain Eric Procopi, who has since confessed to the crime, the Mongolians now have a dilemma on where to
Museum Needs TLC
Paint peeling off, this museum building is the oldest in Mongolia and it shows.
house these finds. Unlike Inner Mongolia (China) which claims Erenhot as the hotbed of dinosaur fossils, Mongolia has no Dinosaur Museum nor Dinosaur Fairyland. A pity, since the first ever discovery of a single digit (finger) predator and dinosaur eggs was in this nation of nomads.
TLC. That's what the Museum of Natural History needs. Loads of it. Since 1924, private ownership and export of fossils have been banned in Mongolia. Yet enterprising people like Eric Procopi made brisk business as a "fossil preparer and dealer". The 70 million year old T-Rex -- one of many illegally smuggled out of Mongolia -- was recently traded and auctioned off for US$1 million in New York. This despite protests and a court order initiated by the Mongolian government against the auction and sale. Mercifully, the US Government's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency stepped in. Thus, these skeletons, fossils and dinosaur eggs found their way back to the country where they were dug out.
No Finders' Keepers In Gobi Desert
There's more out there. Who knows how much more can be
First Dinosaur Eggs Off Gobi
The first dinosaur eggs were found in the southern part of Gobi Desert. Many found in clusters.
uncovered in this vast desert? There's a treasure trove of fossils in Mongolia's Gobi Desert, waiting to be dug out. The desert with those mountains, sand dunes and open space must have been a favorite playground of these Jurassic beasts. Some were allegedly buried alive, as when some sand dunes collapsed on these animals. Who knows if some descendants survived and still lurk in these plains, perhaps sheltered in some caves?
However life turned out for these beasts, it can't be denied that such cultural artifacts are not meant for greedy traders and looters. Well, come to think of it....... Looters all over the world still flaunt their loot in prestigious Museums sans any guilt that they "stole" parts of history from some nations. More bluntly, nearly a hundred sets of dinosaur bones were exhibited in Museums in Europe in the 1990s and have not been returned! But we're not discussing that here. Let's just say I'm happy the Mongolians are getting some of their Dinos back.
Now, off to a few more interesting sights within the city....... ( just click on the headings for more photos & details):
A Dino's Tubular Bone
Imagine them roaming around the sandy deserts!
Gandantegchinleng Buddhist Monastery
Bogd Khaan Winter Palace & Zaisan Hill
Chinggis Kuree Ger Camp Care to follow me on Facebook? https://www.facebook.com/Lifeisacelebration
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One robber to another:
"Do you think they saur us?"!
That's a good one, Mike!
Dinosaur bones--not really
In the US and Europe, the dino skeletons displayed are only plaster casts since the real bones are considered too valuable, but I'm not sure about Mongolia with that snow leopard skin ger, etc. Palace and monastery were gorgeous--how lucky you're seeing this amazing place before it becomes more apartmentalized.
Can't believe it myself that these items are on display without a casing, and many times without guards watching! Mongolia is fast changing and I'm glad we went when we did.
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
Don't mess with T-Rex!
I wish they would protest these valuable pieces a bit better. As you say lots of places to dig for treasures in Mongolia. So many places and so little time.
More expeditions soon, I bet
I bet more Indiana Jones wannabes will be on their way to feel the dusts of Mongolia!