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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Six: Case File No. 31-291

T-rex costume that popular: You saw what?

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Where We Left Off:

The human, Amber, had a tremendously difficult time while the cats needed to investigate a monster close to the house.

Raptor Ranch:

Having this trail camera has paid off. We’ve gotten images of all sorts of magnificent creatures plus some trespassing stray cats who don’t belong here. In this case file, we present one of the wildest mysteries we’ve ever had!

To see where we’re going with the mystery, first I’ll show some images that are more clear with easier to identify creatures. This includes captures of me and Gus walking around Fort Winchester.

If you peruse these photos, most of them have enough sharpness to figure out that we have had a lot of white-tailed deer and Jersey devil-deer. These are all shown with the fancy filter we invented to show the magical characteristics of the hybrid animals.

I know there’s a huge cult of fans in love with the Jurassic Park franchise. Can you believe we have to call everything a franchise? (eyeroll) I’ve seen the first one and liked it, but never felt the urge to keep up with them. I’m not anti-dinosaur by any means. I think their bones are interesting. I enjoy seeing King Kong battle them. I thinks it’s amusing that the velociraptors shown in Jurassic Park are of a ridiculously monstrous size unlike how they actually were.

Movie set photo of Spielberg with prop of a dead Triceratops by Jay Branscomb

When I think of dinosaurs, the geographic location of New Jersey never comes to mind. I think of the west coast for some reason. As far as I know, the east coast dinosaurs are in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It’s a fun place and if you ever get the chance, you should go. It is usually crowded as hell in spots but once you maneuver around, each gallery lets you breathe.

I get newsletters from my friend Thomas Pluck in my inbox. You should subscribe too. He recently mentioned an interesting fact about New Jersey that I didn’t know:

In New Jersey, Big Brook park has a wealth of shark teeth and tiny fish bones, including ones that fish used to crush shellfish in their throats, which are easily missed.What the Pluckery is This?

Oliver, Gus, and I gathered together to examine the photos. Oliver decided he needed some “inspiration” and dunked his face in the catnip bowl. Meanwhile, Gus reminded me about the dinosaur we had already found and sent to our dear friend, Erica Schultz and her feline companion Simon.

It’s Alive!

blurry trail cam night image of a creature shaped like a dinosaur

With this startling new image captured by the trail camera, we weren’t dealing with finding fossils or remains. This is a creature caught on camera running through the Winchester-Nabu estate on November 11, 2022! I had to email the only dino expert I know, Corinna Bechko. She works at a museum, goes on real digs, and is a writer—the whole package!

Corinna was helpful in busting the Jurassic Park movie myth about velociraptors. They were actually the size of a chicken; I’ve also heard the size of turkey. Regardless, they were nothing like the movie versions for the dinosaurs of that name. However, Corinna informed us of the Utahraptor.

illustration with grid for scale showing average human male 5'9" and three sizes of Utahraptors where the tallest one in a walking forward stance is about the same height as the man, but it's capable of standing up taller.

Utahraptor was the inspiration for the Velociraptors in the film Jurassic Park! Utahraptor, however, was quite a bit bigger than Velociraptor; adults were around 20 feet (6.1 meters) long and around 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall at the hip.Natural History Museum of Utah

We have reasons to fear creatures big and small. From flesh-eating bacteria to piranhas to crocodiles to hippopotamuses—there is no single FBI profile of which creatures would be willing to kill a human. Have you ever stood next to a Clydesdale? Those are gigantic MFing horses! Good thing they’re loving and sweet, but don’t expect your foot to stay in tact if you get accidentally stepped on by one of these strong draught horses. Big things can be gentle like a whale shark; and, small things can murder you like a parasite.

Artistic restoration of Utahraptor ostrommaysorum

What if the creature caught on our camera is some kind of new Utahraptor? A magical or supernatural kind? Our magical creatures have evolved to have special defenses to avoid hunters. Some, like the volkolaks, can shapeshift to look like something the hunters wouldn’t want to target. The devil-deer can use a camouflage technique to make their special features disappear for the same reason. Humans would quickly target them for trophies—and let’s face it—for eating too just because they could brag about it. There was a terrible movie called The Freshman (1990) starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick about exotic, endangered cuisine. Better satires about unethical eating are in the first year of Bob’s Burgers.

Bob's Burgers people startled at the health department sign that food may contain human flesh

If a Utahraptor were known to the public at large (sure, this is a public blog, but only our dedicated mystery fans read it), this animal would not stand a chance at survival. To this day, aquariums are still trying to figure out how to keep great white sharks captive because when taken from the oceans, they always die in captivity. Knowing humans, the creature would be taken to a lab where a series of invasive tests would happen; it would get confused and depressed, possibly harming itself or others trying to escape; and it would be euthanized “for the greater good” of the research team if it not accidentally killing itself in a fit of panic. Really, how many Planet of the Apes movies need to be made for humans to get the hint?

Perhaps that infamous photo of Steven Spielberg next to a dead Triceratops wasn’t movie magic after all. I’ll need the contact information for Jay Branscomb who made that photo go viral. Branscomb also shared a photo of Spielberg with his “trophy kill” of a great white shark from the set of making Jaws. Does anyone know Jay Branscomb? Maybe he could weigh in the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency’s photo of a dinosaur running through New Jersey in 2022.

collage for comparison of the trail cam photo on top and the Fred Wier Utahraptor illustration on bottom

By this point in our research, Oliver was sufficiently “inspired” and motivated to brainstorm. He agreed that we should be considering something rather special. The creature probably isn’t one-of-a-kind. It had to come from somewhere. Unless…unless it was brought here through time travel! Time travel stories are so hard to follow. Gus had another theory: the monster could have been conjured through sorcery!

Oliver lying in his bowl of catnip

Case Findings:

Time Travel or Sorcery?

The detectives have exhausted all their current resources for now. We’ll stay in contact with our expert. We’ll also continue to check the area around the trail camera and Fort Winchester for unusual tracks. If we use our newly developed lens filter, there might be a spectral trail or other evidence that would validate the sorcery theory.

Case Status: Open

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