Now that’s a headline we didn’t expect to type today. Or ever, really.
Yes, Nicolas Cage has agreed to return the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, which he purchased in 2007 at an auction for $276,000, to the government of Mongolia after he learned that the artifact was stolen property.
According to the BBC, Cage was contacted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with the bad news that the dino skull had been illegally removed from its home country.
Mongolia made it illegal to export dinosaur fossils in 1924, but that hasn’t stopped a black market of smugglers from emerging and trying to make big bucks on the rare items.
Neither Cage nor the Beverly Hills gallery that sold him the skull are suspected of any wrong doing. Rather, they were just fooled by forged documents of authenticity.
The Tyrannosaurus bataar was related to the Tyrannosaurus rex and lived approximately 70 million years ago. So far, fossils for that particular species of dinosaur have only been found in Mongolia. Aside from Cage’s partial skeleton, there have been three full Tyrannosaurus bataar skeletons returned to Mongolia since 2012, all taken from the illegally.