College student unearths 65 million-year-old Triceratops skull

26 Juillet, 2019, 21:13 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Michael Kjelland with Alice after she has been treated with foil and plaster for protection.             
    University of California Merced

"I've been obsessed with dinosaurs since I was a kid, so it was a pretty big deal", Mr Duran said. The rock bed formation spans four states - Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Kjelland found a Triceratops skull in the area just past year, but was only expecting plant fossils this time around. "It gives us a more complete picture of the environment at the time". Michael Kjelland, a Professor at Mayville State University in North Dakota, he had met previously at a conference, and due to their common passion for dinosaurs, they had quickly closed the friendship.

Luckily for him, he did discover a 65-million-year-old Triceratops skull, which hasn't seen sunlight until Harrison Duran, a self-professed "dinosaur lover", discovered it on Wednesday.

"I can't quite express my excitement in that moment when we uncovered the skull", Duran said in a press release published by UC-Merced.

In just the fourth day of the paleontology dig, the fifth-year student, with a concentration in evolutionary biology, uncovered a portion of a skull belonging to a 65 million-year-old Triceratops.

Professor Kjelland had found a similar triceratops skull in the same area one year beforehand, but had not expected to make a similar discovery again.

Alice was found June 4 among other Cretaceous period plant fossils, which can provide insight into life all those years ago.

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Then the painstaking work of getting Alice out of the ground began.

Following the find, Duran and Kjelland have since stabilized the very fragile skull with a specialized glue, coated it with foil and plaster, and transported it by truck to an undisclosed location before it was secured back in Kjelland's lab at Mayville State University.

The pair also founded the nonprofit Fossil Excavators. Duran and Kjelland hope to use the fossil as an educational tool for others.

For Kjelland, he intends to tour Alice by displaying her in various locations and facilities in order to educate people about the history of dinosaurs. Little did we know what we would stumble upon in that area that we hadn't been to before: "a skull, the triceratops skull and some miscellaneous bones of Alice", said Kjelland.

Kjelland had invited Duran along after meeting him at a biotechnology conference, where Duran informed him of his love of fossils and dinosaurs, Kjelland told ABC News.

'It would be wonderful for UC Merced to be able to display Alice on campus, ' Mr Duran said.

The duo is yet to decide if the fossil will have a permanent home but they are sure they want to use it for educational purposes. "It is such a rare opportunity to be able to something like this issue that I would like to share with our Campus community".

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