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
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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: 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 to 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 when the creatures are thought to have gone extinct after a six-mile wide asteroid collided with Earth. In the densely populated and heavily paved metropolitan area, people rarely dig far enough down to reach some of these older layers that contain dinosaur fossils, Worthington reports. And when they do, they often are just plowed right over, Sertich notes in the release.

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. Named "Hatcher" in honor of pioneering paleontologist John Bell Hatcher, who 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 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 has 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.”

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COMMENTS (5)
  • jordanw-orv
    9/18/2017 - 11:58 a.m.

    Well its only the third to have ever been dug up in the Rocky mountains so that means that their are probably more because we originally thought their were only two. so for all we know their could be hundreds of these bones!

  • ethanm-orv
    9/25/2017 - 11:51 a.m.

    That's crazy that we still find dinosaurs from 66 million years ago

  • morgand-lew
    9/29/2017 - 09:40 a.m.

    I think that it is really exciting to know that more fossils are being found. It is very interesting to see the creatures before our time. I hope that people will find more, so we will be able to see the findings.

  • jtd-lew
    9/29/2017 - 12:21 p.m.

    I didn't know that people are still digging up fossils. The fact that they found it by surprise makes it way better. I would love to dig up some ancient fossils one day.

  • JosieL-weh1
    11/02/2017 - 10:42 a.m.

    I think this article is extremely interesting dinosaur fossils are always something to get exited about. The text says " I'm over the moon about this fossil " said Joe sertich. The text also says " The most fantastic and grotesque of all that race of giant lizards known as dinosaurs." The find was truly marvelous and quite exiting for many paleontologists in Colorado.

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