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Three men charged with illegal possession of dinosaur bones

By M.OYUNGEREL

The Khan-Uul Traffic Police Department arrested three men transporting illegally obtained dinosaur bones on January 17 at around 6:00 p.m.
Two of the men were residents of Dalanzadgad soum, Umnugovi Province, and the third was from Ulaanbaatar. They were traveling in a Jeep in 11th khoroo of Khan-Uul District when the Traffic Police Department and Investigation Division of Crimes Against Regulations of Environmental Protection (IDCREP) apprehended them.
The IDCREP confiscated the bones, which were found to have been obtained through illegal  excavations, and transferred them to the Mongolian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Paleontology and Geology.
“We received a full skeleton and skull of a Protoceratops, and a skeleton of a baby Hadrosaurus, commonly known as the duck-billed dinosaur. The Protoceratops andrewsi bones could almost be considered complete. The excavators didn’t use proper methods for excavation and transportation, which damaged some of the bones,” said a scientist at the Institute of Paleontology and Geology.
He noted that the findings date back to as far back as 84 million years and were most likely found from Umnugovi Province.
“The other finding, the fossil of a baby Hadrosauridas, is 19.5×15.5 in size and is incomplete, with missing skeletal bones.We’re predicting that the findings were from Tugrugiin Shiree of Bulgan soum, Umnugovi Province. These bones are approximately 71 to 84 million years old,” he said.
“We will work to include the findings in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage and in scientific studies. But before that, the police and law enforcement organizations should settle the case,” he added.
All police units have started working together under the Sar Shine-2016 campaign initiated by the Head of the General Police Department, R.Chingis, to intensify crime prevention and crime detection. The IDCREP of the State Investigation Department started patrols to fight illegal loggers and illegal miners after they learned about the three men with dinosaur bones.
“Government Decree No.241 approved the List of Intangible Cultural Heritages in 1995. This list includes a famous finding, which are the bones of two baby dinosaurs fighting. The related organizations will decide on including these findings on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritages,” said Head of the IDCREP Kh.Bayantumen.
Should the findings recovered be included in the list, the three men could be charged under Criminal Code Section 210.1 for “intentionally damaging objects on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritages”.
According to the Criminal Code, they will be fined 200 to 250 times the minimum monthly wage, or sentenced to three years in prison if found guilty.
According to the police, there are many reasons to suspect them of illegal excavation. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science’s Order No.222 states that only scientific organizations are permitted to excavate, search for, and conduct archaeological and paleontological studies in Mongolia. The men might also be held responsible for violation of Article 30 of the Law on Protection of Cultural Heritages, which states, “All findings and all land with findings that are of historic, cultural and/or scientific significance are the property of the state. Damaging and altering the original state and features of findings while keeping them in possession, protecting, or studying them are prohibited”.
The State Investigation Department is now investigating the case to determine if the men were planning to smuggle the bones and whether they have a previous record of illegal excavation.

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