At LiveScience, Wynne Parry writes about Prokopi's claim. Part of it is worth quoting at length:
Although the fossils fetched nearly $1.1 million at auction, the sale did not go through because of the Mongolian claim on the fossils. Paleontologists have supported this claim, saying that clearly identifiable remains for Tarbosaurus bataar, an Asian relative of T. rex, are only known to have come from a rock formation located within Mongolia.Unfortunately, those two are not mutually exclusive. Walter White is both a guy trying to support his family and a meth cook. Fossils are part of each country's national heritage; they are national resources as much as minerals, oil, or timber. Why is it that fossil theft isn't seen as theft at all? The people of Mongolia deserve to hold their own natural history in their institutions, open to study by the international science community. We all deserve that. The argument that the provenance cannot be pinned down by anyone but "the diggers" is like something out of the Young Earth Creationist playbook. It's a smokescreen meant to undercut the expertise of paleontologists who can confidently infer where the bones were collected. In a statement from Prokopi released in June he says:
Prokopi has questioned that, writing in a statement to the media in June that the bones could have come from elsewhere. "Other than (from) the diggers, there is no way for anyone to know for certain when or where the specimen was collected." "I'm just a guy in Gainesville, Florida, trying to support my family, not some international bone smuggler," he wrote.
"It's certainly possible a new locality with complete specimens was discovered in another country," he writes. "Just because it is unknown to professional paleontologists now doesn't mean it is not possible."I certainly don't want the man's family to come to financial ruin, but the burden of proof is on him. It was his responsibility to do his due diligence and ensure that the fossils were not obtained illegally. If "the diggers" or his connection in the UK, fossil dealer Chris Moore, cannot provide this supposed "new locality," what option do we have other than to go by the expertise of the paleontological community? After all, without their work these fossils would be little more than strange rocks, and there would be no market for them.
Prokopi writes he purchased the bones without being certain of where they were collected.
Surely, a fossil dealer is aware of the tricky web of international laws that must be navigated to do business. The desire to protect one's family seems to preclude investing all of its money into a venture of dubious legality.