Largest fossil of its kind in Alberta

Dr. François Therrien excavating the recently discovered ceratopsian shoulder blade in October, 2020. ECA Review/Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology
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Dion Hrushkin, Nathan Hrushkin, and Dr. François Therrien holding a cast of the fossil found. ECA Review/Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

Dr. François Therrien excavating the recently discovered ceratopsian shoulder blade in October, 2020. ECA Review/Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

A father and son found juvenile hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) bones while hiking through Horseshoe Canyon near Drumheller, Alta. in 2020.

Nathan Hrushkin (who was 12-years-old at the time) and his father Dion showed the fossil site to the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s Curator of Dinosaur Palaeoecology, Dr. François Therrien.

Excavation took place in the summer and fall of 2020.

While the hadrosaur find was reported widely in the news, a second find by the family was also being collected nearby.

The second reported site is of a slightly younger age than the hadrosaur quarry, dating back roughly 69 million years to the Late Cretaceous.

A single large shoulder blade fossil (known as a scapulocoracoid) of a horned dinosaur was collected from the site.

The fossil is important due to its large size, measuring 1.25 metres long, making it the largest bone of its kind ever recorded in Alberta.

Based on the fossil’s size, the estimated length of this ceratopsian dinosaur would have been roughly eight metres, similar to the sub-adult Triceratops skeleton on display in the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s Dinosaur Hall.

The age of the fossil material tells us the specimen lived before Triceratops, and may be the mysterious Eotriceratops, an animal currently known only from one skull.

Through further excavation this summer, museum staff will investigate whether there are additional bones at the site.

Horseshoe Canyon is 17 km. west of Drumheller.

Both fossil sites are located on the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Nodwell Property.

This conservation area not only preserves native habitat and the species that call it home, but also our province’s fossil heritage.

Numerous significant fossil discoveries are made by the public in our province each year.

The Hrushkin family led by example by reporting their finds. If you discover a fossil in Alberta, report your find to the Royal Tyrrell Museum.Most importantly, leave the fossils undisturbed in the ground.

Fossils are protected by law, and excavating fossils requires a permit that is only available to professional palaeontologists.

 

by the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

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