In a last-minute order, a judge in Dallas demanded that a New York auction house halt the sale of a complete Tarbosaurus dinosaur skeleton before its auction on Sunday, May 20.
Mongolia's president, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, believes the rare skeleton was smuggled out of his country and asked the international scientific community to aid his nation and determine the origin of the fossil.
Elbegdorj said that Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is under suspicion because they refuse to disclose from where they found and transported the gargantuan skeleton.
The near-complete fossil is of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a cousin of the North American T-Rex. It stands at 24 feet long and 8-feet tall and is believed to have been excavated from the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.
Officials in Mongolia said that it's illegal to transport paleontological and historical treasures out of the country.
Mongolia is particularly vulnerable to looters taking advantage of the country. Because of the country’s expansive size, it is very difficult to secure all excavation sites.
Mongolia is represented by Houston attorney Robert Painter who said the temporary restraining order will give time to determine the true ownership of the Tyrannosaurus.
Painter said the auction house was served with the restraining order on Saturday afternoon and he'll visit the auction house on Sunday to make sure they comply with the judge's demand.