THORNTON, Colo. -- Today, we sent out a breaking news alert about something that’s 66 million years old and was found in a bunch of dirt.
Ok, the thing in question is actually super rare … and cool … and was found at a construction site in Thornton on Friday.
Construction crews were working on Thornton’s new Public Safety Facility at 132nd Avenue and Quebec Street when they found something they weren’t expecting: a triceratops skeleton and skull.
Paleontologists from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science showed up on Monday to check it out – and learned this discovery was a pretty big deal.
In fact, Joe Sertich, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science curator of dinosaurs, says it’s one of only three triceratops skulls found in the Front Range area.
“A lot of times these will be plowed up and they won’t be recognized,” Sertich said. “We’re really lucky in this case that it was recognized as fossils and we got the call.”
The triceratops was at least 66 million years old – something a little different from the 10,000 to 12,000-year-old fossils Sertich says are usually found in the Denver area.
The difference, in this case, was construction crews were digging deeper for this building than they usually do to build parking lots and other structures – something that allowed them to get closer to an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
“My heart was racing!” Sertich said. “As soon as uncovered it and realized this was a horn of a triceratops and not just another leg bone or part of a hip, it made the site really exciting.”
Construction crews have stopped work in the area so scientists can expose the fossil, look for other bones and then extract them, the city of Thornton said.
When the fossil is safely removed, the hope is that one day it will be housed at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
“As soon as I got on site, I realized it was a pretty important dinosaur find, which are pretty unusual in the Denver area,” Sertich said.
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