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'A pretty big find': Colorado construction crew uncovers 66-million-year-old triceratops skeleton

The good quality of the skeleton might help answer questions that have been puzzling archaeologists.

CONSTRUCTION CREWS BREAKING ground on a new fire and police station north of Denver, Colorado have unearthed a 66-million-year-old triceratops skeleton, sparking a flurry of scientific interest in this iconic herbivore.

Diggers working on a site in Thornton – population 137,000 – encountered an immovable object on 25 August.

One of the workers thought it might be a fossil, so they called the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Curator Joseph Sertich arrived at the scene and identified the bones as belonging to a triceratops.

“This is a pretty small triceratops,” Sertich said in a Facebook Live broadcast from the work site on Wednesday.

“I realised it was a pretty big discovery right away,” he said.

This fossil is about half the size of triceratops unearthed in Montana and North and South Dakota.

“We don’t really know why,” Sertich said.

“Even though we have hundreds of triceratops from the American West, we only have three good skulls. And this might be one of the best skeletons to tell us why Denver triceratops are smaller than all of their cousins everywhere else.”

Paleontologists have found a horn, a shoulder blade, parts of the frill, tailbone and other skeletal remains.

Experts will be digging for the next couple of weeks with brushes and small tools to uncover as many of the bones as possible.

“All these bones are going to go back to the Denver Museum, we are going to put them right up in our window,” Sertich said.

Visitors to the museum could see them as early as this weekend, he said.

Another triceratops was found in 2003 about three kilometres away.

“It was found in exactly the same way. A bulldozer operator plowed through it, took half of it away but the other half was perfect and we were able to salvage that and take it back to the museum,” Sertich said.

© AFP 2017

Read: Bosco mugs to ration books: Do you have objects that could help tell the story of Ireland’s last 100 years? >

Read: An Irish documentary tells the incredible story of the Voyager spacecraft >

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