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News: Fossil discovery
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The initial finding was of a triceratops shoulder blade and horn. Photo Credit: City of Thornton/The Denver Post.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

Rare triceratops fossil discovered at Denver construction site

A sample much older than what has been found so far

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has uncovered a total of 12 Triceratops bones at the construction site for the City of Thornton’s Public Safety Facility. The discovery was made on Friday, August 25, when construction crews working at the site uncovered the fossil. The following Monday scientists from the City of Thornton and the Museum confirmed that the horn and shoulder blade of a dinosaur fossil was partially unearthed. It soon became clear that it was a triceratops skeleton and skull.

“Based on what we’ve uncovered up to this point, this find is likely the most complete Cretaceous period skeleton ever found in this region,” said Joe Sertich, Denver Museum of Nature and Science curator of dinosaurs. The discovery is rare and quite important since only two more skulls have been discovered in the Front Range area, and this is a much older fossil than the ones that are usually found, which mostly date to the ice age.

In addition to exposing several fossils, a rib bone weighing about 40 pounds was the first to be
completely extracted. The excavation team—made of volunteers from the Museum, the Colorado Office of Archaeology, Saunders Construction, Inc., and the City of Thornton—will continue to excavate the Triceratops focusing on the skull and frill bones, stabilising the area and carefully exposing the rest of the fossil, looking at the same time for other bones that might remain uncovered and need to be safely extracted.

The city of Thornton is providing security at the fossil site to ensure the items make it safely to its new home, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The fossil site is not visible from the street, and because this is an active construction site, only museum personnel, city of Thornton crews and construction personnel are permitted on the site.

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