Dinosaur fossil excavation in Alberta almost complete

by | Oct 4, 2013 | Biz/Tech

Photo courtesy Tourmaline Oil Corp

Photo courtesy Tourmaline Oil Corp

By Therese Jastrzebski

A dinosaur fossil has been found in Spirit Lake, Alberta and should be ready to be transported to museum by the end of the Friday.

The fossil will be brought back to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, where it will be properly stored and studied, said  Dan Spivak, head of the museum’s resource management program.

The tail was the first part of the fossil that was found and has allowed researchers to identify the dinosaur as a hadrosaur or duck-billed dinosaur, he said.

“There’s a whole bunch of different types of hadrosaurs, duck-billed dinosaurs that lived in Alberta around the same time this one would have lived,” Spivak told humber news. “So we’re talking probably in the range of about 70 to 72 million years ago.”

Finding an articulated skeleton preserved in life position (ie knee bones connected to thigh bones etc.)  is rare, said David Evans, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the ROM and an assistant professor at U of T.

“These are the rarest types of dinosaur fossils that we can find and the find really is quite rare and special,” he said.

“Articulated remains of duck-billed dinosaurs in Alberta are not that rare, but what’s special about this particular fossil is where it’s from in Alberta, most of our knowledge of dinosaurs comes from dinosaur provincial park in Drumheller, which is in southern Alberta,” said Evans.

Without finding the skull, researchers might not be able to determine what kind of hadrosaur the dinosaur was, said Spivak.

“They all look very similar from the neck down and it’s typically the skull that differentiates one group of duck-billed dinosaurs from another and so we don’t know at this point if this animal has a skull attached to it or not,” said Spivak.

The piece of tail that was found was most likely part of a complete skeleton, said Evans. Palaeontologists are now left waiting in hopes of finding the rest of the body, especially if the body includes the skull.