During an ordinary day, construction workers unlikely discovered dinosaur bones while digging at the highlands ranch construction site located near the Windcrest retirement home at Denver, Colorado. What seems to be an ordinary day for these workers, turned out to be another behemoth of science unearthing.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s team of Paleontologists identified that the fossils which include a limb bone and some ribs are from an adult triceratops (three-horned dinosaur) which is believed to be 68 million years old.
The construction workers found it in a rock layer earlier this May 15. At first, a construction worker observed that the dirt looks unusual. Then, he and some of his teammates scrutinized it. Some of them said that it seems like dinosaur bones, while others thought it was just a piece of trash. Unsure on what to do, the team called their boss, David Rahm, a project director of the Brinkmann Constructors.
Rahm said that despite his 20 years of construction experience, it was the first time to discover a dinosaur fossil, and he did not know how to dig a dinosaur. Hence, the team decided to call the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. After Rahm’s team sent the photographs, the DMNS scientists evaluated the pictures and went to explore the site in person the next morning. The scientists confirmed that it was indeed dinosaur fossils.
During the excavation process, the DMNS researchers and the Brinkmann team was able to work in harmony. Some of the construction workers assisted the researchers while doing their construction on the other parts of the location. According to Rahm, “we’re lucky in that where we found the bones were outside our major work area. So the museum can do their part, and [was] able to do our part.”
According to the Museum’s spokeswoman, Maura O’Neal, with her team composed of paleontologists and researchers, had taken the bones for a more detailed evaluation.
Also, Dr. Tyler Lyson from DMNS’ vertebrate paleontology department stated that “finds like this, while relatively rare, are a great reminder of how dynamic our planet is and how much more there is out there to discover.”
Colorado is known as a “fossil hotspot,” and a lot of dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the area. Some of the dinosaurs include the “the most famous dinosaur in Colorado” Stegosaurus, the “deadliest meat-eating dinosaur of the late Jurrasic period,” Allosaurus, the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex, “ostrich-like theropod” Ornithomimus, the plant-eating Ornithopods, and the most prominent type of dinosaurs like Sauropods, Fruitafossor, Hyaenodon, and Megafauna mammals.
But the most common dinosaurs discovered in Colorado are a triceratops. Overall, the dinosaur fossils found in Colorado are from the three periods of the Mesozoic era, representing all the six dinosaur groups. Out of 15 recognized dinosaur families, 12 were present in this western US state.
The first “king of tyrant lizards” or T.rex in history was found in South Table Mountain, Colorado in 1874 (only it’s scattered teeth). In 1869, Allosaurus fossils were located in the Morrison Formation. Last 2017, dinosaur fossils are discovered in Thorton construction site in Denver.
At first, they thought it was a triceratops, but they found out later that it was a torosaurus. It was the first of its kind to be discovered in Colorado. According to scientists, there is an excellent probability of finding more fossils.
Currently, the construction team, together with the group scientists, are working to search for more fossils at the site. Dr. Lyson stated that “it’s always exciting to get a call about possible fossils, and I can’t wait to share more details as we continue to dig.” Construction workers are using heavy equipment to dig a deep trench next to the location where the triceratops bones were found.
O’Neal added that they are thankful to the Brinkmann Constructors and Erickson Living-Wind crest for letting them continue digging the site. Meanwhile, the executive director of Wind Crest, Craig Erickson, stated that their team is ” thrilled to be part of such an incredible scientific discovery.”
“We appreciate the invaluable expertise of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and our partners at Erickson Living and Brinkmann Constructors as we work together on this exciting opportunity for all of us to learn more about our earth’s rich history,” he added.