Raptor With Multiple Personalities Source of Controversy

Posted on January 23, 2009


picture-11Julieraptor, Sid Vicious, Kleptoraptor… Who was the raptor really?

A well-reknowned hobby paleontologist, Nathan Murphy, has been charged with theft for excavating a raptor in 2002 and failing to notify the owner of the land it was found on. His defense is that he didn’t realize whose land it was; he thought it was a couple with whom he had an agreement to bone-hunt. Well, he didn’t tell the Hammonds, either. Until 2007, a year after he turned it over to the nonprofit Dinosaur Field Station in Montana.

When the raptor was found in 2002, the man who found it was under the guidance of Mr. Murphy. The man named it Julieraptor, after his sister. When Mr. Murphy turned it in as his own in 2006, he called it Sid Vicious. And now? Well, given the criminal charges he’s facing, he jokingly calls it Kleptoraptor.

Although Mr. Murphy has taken the tone of transparency, freely admitting that he unearthed the raptor and failed to notify the landowners, his candor seems false. He himself has estimated the value of the raptor at $150,000 to $400,000, yet explains he “forgot” about it because it was hidden under a giant turtle shell. For four years?

I don’t know about you, but I never forget the $700 I lost after I left my wallet in a 7-11 bathroom just south of Atlantic City. (I like the craps table — easy come easy go). That was a good seven years ago. Accidentally forgetting to tell the landowners (either the actual ones or the ones who you think own the land), and then “spacing” on a multi-hundred-thousand dollar Cretaceous dinosaur seems a bit ingenuine.

Judge for yourself. Read the full article, “Instead of Glory, the Finder of a Rare Dinosaur Fossil Faces Charges of Theft,” on the New York Times.

Or read more about raptors on Wikipedia.

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