Colorado construction crew unearths 66-million-year-old triceratops fossil
Colorado construction crew unearths 66-million-year-old triceratops fossil This Monday, Aug. 28, 2017 photo provided by the city of Thornton, Colo., shows a fossil of a triceratops dinosaur discovered by construction workers on Aug. 25 in Thornton. (Lisa Watson/City of Thornton, Colorado, via AP)
Colorado construction crew unearths 66-million-year-old triceratops fossil
Lexile: 830L

Assign to Google Classroom

Last week, a construction crew was digging. This was part of  work on a new fire and police building in Thornton, Colorado. They unearthed a prehistoric treasure. I was an ancient triceratops fossil.

The discovery is especially notable because the remains include the triceratops skull. This is one of just three believed to have ever been dug up in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. That's according to Danika Worthington of the Denver Post.

“I’m over the moon right now about this dinosaur fossil," said  Joe Sertich. He's paleontologist of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Thornton officials brought Sertich in earlier this week. They had him confirm the discovery and begin the work to excavate it. He hopes to see the fossil exhibited in his museum once it's dug up and preserved.

The remains are older than most other fossils found along the Front Range. Those usually originate from the end of the last ice age. That was around 10 to 12 thousand years ago. The triceratops dates back to at least 66 million years ago. That's when the creatures are thought to have gone extinct. That happened after a six-mile wide asteroid collided with Earth. 

The Front Range is a densely populated and heavily paved metropolitan area. People rarely dig far enough down to reach some of these older layers that contain dinosaur fossils. And when they do, they often are just plowed right over.

Triceratops have long captured the imagination of dinosaur lovers. The first skeleton was assembled and mounted in an exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in 1905. It was named "Hatcher." This was in honor of pioneering paleontologist John Bell Hatcher. He discovered most of its bones. The beast was cobbled together from a patchwork of parts. It was hardly anatomically accurate, but it was still awe-inspiring to visitors. The Washington Post called it "the most fantastic and grotesque of all that race of giant lizards known as dinosaurs," writes Sarah Kaplan of The Washington Post. It was in an article describing a forthcoming exhibit that included "Hatcher."

Triceratops was among the last living dinosaur species. This large, herbivorous dinosaur sported two horns on its forehead and one at the tip of its snout. Its name literally means "three-horned face.” Through the years, triceratops have become famous in pop culture, making appearances in films including "Jurassic Park" and "The Land Before Time." It has even made its way onto postage stamps.

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

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 264 times
How did an asteroid cause the dinosaurs’ extinction?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • Michaell-dav1
    9/18/2017 - 01:48 p.m.

    It is amazing to know that there are still fossils in the ground out there, even after 66 million years. 66 million years is more then you think. That's over 999,999,999,999,999,999 days! These fossils in the ground can help find more evidence of what these dinosaurs looked like, and maybe some confidence can be built go find some more of those fossils. An asteroid may have caused the dinosaurs' extinction, due to its large size, asteroids can slay anything. Since asteroids killed off most of the dinosaurs, that is why dinosaurs still aren't alive today. Overall, this is an interesting article and very cool to know there are still prehistoric fossils still out there.

  • Nelly-E2
    9/22/2017 - 10:43 a.m.

    A group of construction workers were digging to build a new fire and police building in Thornton Colorado when the found a 66 year old triceratops bones. The workers knew it was a triceratops because of the skull they found.

    MY COMMENTS: I hope that they don't still build a police and fire station there because there might be more fossils around that area.

  • Emmas-eic
    9/28/2017 - 09:47 a.m.

    That is amazing to think that we can still find the bones of dinosaurs that just blows my mind.

  • Alejandrom-eic
    9/28/2017 - 01:10 p.m.

    Wow i thought that there would be no more Dino fossils but it is still cool how you guys found a 66 million old fossil from a Dino a real Dino thats crazy.

  • Charlotte-E2
    10/05/2017 - 09:43 a.m.

    I think that it is cool that they found a triceratops. The article says that the triceratops was one of the last living dinosaur. They named the fossil Hatcher after John Bell Hatcher.

  • Hailey-bla1
    10/19/2017 - 09:18 a.m.

    This was a great discovery and I'm glad they shared it with children because it allows kids to get a grasp on dinosaurs and discoveries on dinosaurs. They had found 1 or the 3 triceratops skulls in the world! That's amazing. It was also found in the U.S. out home state. I think this passage was a great way to get kids involved with dinosaurs.

  • Caira-bla
    10/19/2017 - 11:30 a.m.

    The asteroid had caused the dinosaurs' extinction because a six mile wide asteroid collided with earth. I thought this article was cool because you cant really find dinosaur fossils in this time a year. I also think this article was cool because you would think since so many things have plowed over the fossil that you would find it.

  • Drew-bla
    10/19/2017 - 11:30 a.m.

    I am a huge dinosaur fan and I loved this article. I learned many things from it. I learned that the scientists thought the last days of dinosaurs were 66 million years ago. I thought that the last days of dinosaurs were more recent. I also liked this because one of my favorite dinosaurs was the triceratops.

  • sydneys-buh
    12/07/2017 - 11:18 a.m.

    Colorado construction workers found 66-million-year-old triceratops bones. The remains of a triceratops skull were found. triceratops bones are very rare and brittle

    my opinion is that its very cool they found the bones.
    to me, it is crazy how they didn't break down into the soil.

  • ReedA-dec
    5/24/2019 - 01:09 p.m.

    I think its good that we are finding more and more fossils to learn about the animals of the past.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment