This was in the news a while ago, but there was a big fiasco with an American auction house selling a dinosaur skeleton that was apparently stolen from Mongolia. The president of Mongolia filed a lawsuit to bring the stolen skeleton back to its ancestral lands, and won. Now, in the center of Sukhbaatar Square (now called Chinggis Square by a few), they have set up a nice display that illustrates the history of the skeleton, starting from when it was excavated, up to when it was returned to Mongolia.
To be clear, this is not a Tyrannosaurus. Rather, it is a Tarbosaurus. I learned the difference while visiting the skeleton: Tarbosaurus has more teeth, a narrower skull, and even shorter arms. It is interesting to note that nearly all Tarbosaurus skeletons have been found in Mongolia.
The building tells of the excavation back in 1946 by the Russians. From there, it shows how the skeleton was lifted, shipped to Texas, and auctioned in New York before a brave lawyer stepped in to assist Mongolia. There are pictures of protests by Mongolians in New York (only 3 were pictured, but it was important for Mongolians, all the same), and a case that holds the legal papers declaring victory for Mongolia, as well as their American lawyer’s cell phone and charger. It even showed how they transported the delicate structure across the Pacific. A very fascinating story, to say the least.
The skeleton itself is missing a few bones, which they made nice replacements for from a special plaster. It’s an amazing sight: towering in the small building, overlooking the passers-by as they mill about, reading displays and examining souvenirs. I’m not entirely sure how much longer it will be displayed in the square, but it was definitely worth catching a glimpse of these fossils that have shaped a bit of modern history.