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National Briefing / Montana

Dinosaur expert to admit stealing

March 20, 2009|Times Wire Reports

A famous paleontologist who discovered the world's best preserved dinosaur will plead guilty to stealing dinosaur bones from federal land.

Nathan Murphy's change-of-plea motion follows state and federal investigations into his alleged attempts to cash in on the lucrative fossil market.

Murphy, 51, is a self-taught dinosaur expert who spent much of the last two decades searching for bones in central Montana's Hell Creek formation. In 2000, he discovered a mummified, 77-million-year-old duckbilled hadrosaur known as Leonardo, considered the best preserved in the world.

But after previously denying wrongdoing, court documents filed Wednesday show Murphy has reached a plea deal on a federal charge that he stole bones from public land near Malta.

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