Rare triceratops fossil found in Colorado

Construction crews have stopped working near the fossil as DMNS scientists stabilize the area, carefully expose the remains, and look for any other bones that may still be hidden.
By Billy Kirk | Sep 01, 2017
On Friday of last week, construction crews working in the city of Thornton, Colorado, struck paleontologists' 'gold' when they unearthed a rare triceratops fossil.

By Monday, scientists had arrived at the site and confirmed the discovery was a fossil.

"My heart was racing," said Joe Sertich, Curator of Dinosaurs at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS), in a statement. "I realized it was a pretty important dinosaur find."

The fossilized remains, which appear to be a triceratops skull and skeleton, are much older and rarer than most fossil discoveries along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, according to Sertich.

"This dinosaur has been laying here for at least 66 million years," Sertich said. "I'm over the moon right now about this dinosaur fossil."

Scientists are fortunate that the construction crews recognized the find as a fossil instead of digging it up and destroying it, as often happens, Sertich noted.

Triceratops a vegetarian that lived alongside the more fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex is believed to have become extinct 66 million years ago following the collision of a six-mile-wide asteroid off the Yucatn Peninsula in what is now Mexico.

Sporting a large bony frill and three horns on the front of its face, triceratops is one of the most recognizable of all dinosaurs.

Construction crews have stopped working near the fossil as DMNS scientists stabilize the area, carefully expose the remains, and look for any other bones that may still be hidden. Access to the site is being severely restricted.

"It is incredible to have this find occur in our backyard," said Sertich, in a separate statement, adding, "Finds like this help us to understand dinosaur evolution and behavior."

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