Gary Thompson is determined to set the record straight.
He says he, and only he, is "the sole, original, authentic discovery person" of the mosasaur skeleton that was unearthed in Cedaredge in 1975. A DCI article by Muriel Marshall reporting the discovery correctly credited Thompson with the find. The article also correctly credited science teacher Dick Jones with reporting the find to Dr. Jim Jensen of Brigham Young University.
The full mosasaur skeleton was installed at the BYU Museum of Paleontology earlier this year, and was the subject of a DCI Back Page in August. A cast of the skull has been showcased at the Welcome Center in Cedaredge for years.
Thompson says he moved to New Mexico with his mother shortly after the find, and only later learned that the original article also contained the names of two boys who claimed they had directed Thompson to the discovery site on Cedar Mesa.
"Unfortunately, this article has been used as a reference for additional articles and has also been expanded upon creating additional pieces of misinformation to be perpetuated over the years," Thompson said.
After tracking articles online, he and his wife decided to travel to Cedaredge and on to Utah in 2003. Their trip included a visit with DCI reporter Verna Barr, who said subsequent newspaper articles on the find were based on the original article by Muriel Marshall. After visiting with Thompson, Barr wrote another article that omitted any mention of the other two boys.
Despite attempts by DCI reporter Verna Barr to rectify past errors, Thompson has been disappointed to see more recent articles that completely omit his name. Thompson believed the record would finally reflect that he alone discovered the fossil without direction or assistance by any others.
Then in May 2017, the article "Mosasaur: Died in cretaceous period, found in 1975, displayed in 2017," by Jessica Parcell was posted on the BYU website. The article talked about the cast of the full skeleton that had been completed and was now the subject of a new exhibit at the museum.
To his dismay, Thompson found that the BYU article not only omitted his name, but included a completely new name that had never before been associated with the find.
"As you can imagine this has prompted me to be very proactive in correcting and preventing any future disintegration or perversion of the truth regarding my discovery of this fossil," he said in a letter to the DCI intended to clarify the situation. "To this end, I have been very busy thinking about and noting the factual details I remember about my discovery and writing my true story. I have also been researching all the articles or postings I could find on the subject and notating any errors in them about the find. I have been in communication with the BYU museum curator as we work to correct the errors made in their last article. I was also able to contact my old science teacher Dr. Jones who sent an email to Rod Scheetz at BYU Paleontology Museum verifying that I was indeed the teenager from his class that discovered the fossil and reported it to him."
Thompson provided the DCI with a copy of "My True Story," along with past articles and publications with corrections noted, and Dr. Jones' verification letter -- "all for the sole purpose of preserving the truth, relating to this historically and scientifically relevant Mosasaur Prognathodon Stadtmani fossil specimen."
"I do not attempt to take away others' participation or contribution to the site activity after my discovery, but I do want to make it very clear that it was in fact myself, by myself, that discovered and unearthed a portion of the fossil and made the original report to my teacher Dr. Jones, for him to contact the right people to care for the find properly," Thompson concludes.
During a preliminary hearing in Delta District Court on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Judge Steven Schultz found probable cause for second degree murder charges against Heather Jones.
Jones previously faced three counts in the shooting of Ryan Redifer in Paonia on Jan. 12, 2018 -- assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree and violation of a protection order.