Archaeological Marvel: Discovery of 65-Million-Year-Old Triceratops skull Unveiled

Missouri paleontologist David Schmidt and his team have unearthed an extraordinary find in the South Dakota Badlands—a remarkably well-preserved triceratops ѕkᴜɩɩ.

This seven-foot-long fossil, believed to be from the Triceratops prorsus species, weighs over 3,000 pounds and dates back approximately 66 million years.

What makes this discovery particularly significant is its rarity, as finding the nearly complete ѕkeɩetoп of a triceratops is an exceedingly uncommon occurrence in the field of paleontology.

The journey to this remarkable find began in March 2019 when a local rancher, while repairing a fence near the Grand River National Grassland, noticed a weathered piece of bone protruding from the ground.

The rancher promptly reported the discovery, setting in motion a series of events that would lead to one of the most exciting paleontological finds in recent years.

As fate would have it, David Schmidt and his team from Westminster College had just arrived in the area for their annual collecting trip, marking the beginning of an unexpected and thrilling adventure.

Initial investigations were cautious due to federal laws prohibiting the collection of paleontological artifacts on public lands.

Schmidt and his team conducted a preliminary surface survey, navigating strict guidelines to avoid any disturbance to the site during the law enforcement investigation. Once authorities confirmed that the fossil was within the boundaries of the park, the team received approval to commence their excavation efforts in June.

The subsequent two months involved meticulous work, with the team digging a seven-foot pit in the soft sandstone to unearth the triceratops ѕkᴜɩɩ. Using pickaxes and shovels, they carefully removed the crumbly sandstone, revealing a ѕkᴜɩɩ that measured about seven feet long.

The fossilized bones, preserved in the sandstone for millions of years, gradually emerged, challenging Schmidt’s initial disbelief and affirming the incredible luck and significance of their find.

The triceratops fossil is not just a rare specimen; its potential importance is heightened by its proximity to the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary. This boundary represents a critical moment in Earth’s history when a massive asteroid impact, widely believed to be a primary factor, led to the extinction of 75% of all species on the planet, including the dinosaurs.

Studying fossils from this era provides invaluable insights into the final chapters of dinosaur existence and the subsequent ecological transformations that shaped the world we know today.

The exact extent of the triceratops ѕkᴜɩɩ that Schmidt’s team was able to collect remains uncertain. The ongoing process involves encasing the fossil in a protective layer of plaster for transportation back to Westminster College, where further study and analysis will take place.

This meticulous work will involve removing the plaster and sediment from the ѕkᴜɩɩ and piecing together the various bones found in the excavation.


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