Dinosaurs are ancient creatures that used to roam the Earth millions of years ago. Considered rare to find their remains, two boys—one from the United States and the other from China—just unearthed them.
Harrison Duran, a fifth-year biology student from the University of California Merced, discovered something unique: a partial skull of a triceratops dinosaur in one of his excavation digs in North Dakota.
Meanwhile, Zhang Yangzhe, a feeble third-grade student from Heyuan City, China, just happened to stumble on a pile of dinosaur eggs while walking and playing with his mother.
Though the two boys are not related in any way, they share the same interest and fascination towards dinosaurs. And the discovery of their remains shed some light in their existence and tells the story of what it was like when they used to rule over the planet.
Duran, who claims that his interest in the magnificent creatures go all the way back when he was a child, saying that it brought him to study about dinosaurs in college.
He took a History of Dinosaurs course in his first year with Professor Justin Yeakel in whose lab he met Ph.D. student Taran Rallings, who advised Duran on his studies.
Through sufficient institutional support, he gives his desire in discovering dinosaurs a try in the real world.
During one of his excavation digs at Hell Creek Formation, a world-famous dinosaur fossil site, he saw Alice. Named after the property owner, Alice is the partial skull of a 65-million-year-old partial triceratops dinosaur.
“I can’t quite express my excitement [at] that moment when we uncovered the skull,” Duran said in a release from his University. “I’ve been obsessed with dinosaurs since I was a kid, so it was a pretty big deal.”
He was accompanied by Michael Kjelland, an experienced excavator and biology professor at Mayville State University in North Dakota. Together, the duo was known in their small town as “bone diggers.”
The two initially met at a biotechnology conference, and after discovering their shared passion for dinosaurs, they founded the nonprofit Fossil Excavators.
While some fossils become part of private collections or in museums, they plan that Fossil Excavators will be able to rotate Alice’s location to “allow others to experience the awe he and Duran felt upon discovering Alice,’ Kjelland said.
“My vision is to have Alice rotate locations,” Kjelland said. “The goal is to use this find as an educational opportunity, not just reserve Alice in a private collection somewhere so only a handful of people can see her.”
Duran’s story is similar to the third-grader from China, Yangzhe. His mom, Li Xiaofang, attested that his boy was enrolled in Baoyuan Primary School in Heyuan, and usually likes to read books on dinosaurs.
Interestingly, his home city of Heyuan has officially been honored by the China Geological Survey’s Stratum and Paleontology Center as the “Hometown of the Dinosaur” in China.
Heyuan has earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records after discovering more than 10,008 dinosaur egg fossils throughout the city, with those unearthed in China accounting for one-third of the total found in the world.
It was not much of a surprise when Yangzhe, while playing by the east bank of the Dongjiang Bridge, to find a dinosaur egg. What made it even more interesting was the part where he did not just find one egg but 11 of them.
The eggs, which date back 65 million years ago before the reptiles became extinct, measure approximately nine centimeters in diameter and are still relatively intact.
In an interview with the Heyuan Radio and Television Station, Yangzhe said (translated): I have learned this knowledge in the books and in the cultural corridor [sic] of the school. I have seen it in museums. Different dinosaur eggs have different shapes.
His mother also explained that the school regularly educates children on dinosaurs, instructing them to inform their parents or the police if they find dinosaur eggs in the area.
The complete set of eggs have been taken to Heyuan Dinosaur Museum for further studies to identify the type of eggs and to clean and repair them.
Huang Dong, the curator of the Heyuan Dinosaur Museum, confirmed to Beijing News via Global Times that the fossils came from the late Cretaceous period. “The 11 dinosaur eggs with a diameter of eight to nine centimeters are nearly 65 million years old.”