Construction Crew Uncovers Triceratops Fossil in Denver

Sometimes we find amazing things in the most innocuous places. Take the recent discovery of a rare triceratops skeleton, which was uncovered by construction workers excavating for a new public safety building in Thornton (on the corner of East 132nd avenue and Quebec Street, north of Denver) this week.

This find is actually one of three triceratops skulls recently discovered along the Front Ridge The find is one of three triceratops skulls found along Colorado’s Front Range, describes Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) curator Joe Sertich.

He comments, “I’m over the moon right now that this is a dinosaur fossil,” adding that it had probably been resting their for a good 66 million years.

“My heart was racing,” he said. “As soon as (we) 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.”

So far, the crew has only unearthed a horn (from the skull) and a shoulder blade, but there is probably much more to come.

Most fossils that are uncovered in Denver date back to the Ice Age. That is roughly 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Many of these fossils have been mammoths or camels, which is why Sertich was so excited to find an actual dinosaur species.

Sertich goes on to recount the events that led to the discovery. He explains that construction crews had originally broke ground on that street corner to build the Fire and Police Substation less than a month ago. He explains that most of this part of Denver is covered with parking lots, residential plots, and shopping malls so digging deep into the ground is somewhat unusual. But while crews were using a skid-steer loader to move around layers of earth, they found an odd object.

“A lot of times these will be plowed up and they won’t be recognized,” Sertich explains. “And we’re really lucky in this case that it was recognized as fossils and we got the call and were out here and able to salvage the site, and actually collect these fossils.”

At this time, then DMNS scientists will step in to stabilize the area so they can more carefully expose any more potential fossils and look for other bones that they can safely extract. Fortunately, the site does not have any public exposure, which should make the process a little easier.

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