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College Student Discovers 65 Million-Year-Old Triceratops Skull

Ah, college. A time of learning, growth, and, mostly, eating bargain store ramen. Most of us are lucky to make it out with a diploma in hand and some great experiences. What almost all of us can agree on, though, is that it’s hard to achieve huge, monumental success while at university. College student Harrison Duran did manage a prehistoric achievement while still in school. The fifth year student managed to discover a partial Triceratops skull during his summer break!

According to CNN, the University of California, Merced biology student unearthed a 65 million-year-old skull while excavating in North Dakota. Accompanying him was fellow excavator and Professor Michael Kjelland from North Dakota’s Mayville State University. Their excavation location, Hell Creek Formation, is known to be rich with dino bones. In fact, Kjelland previously found another Triceratops skull in a previous excavation at Hell Creek. To find this second skull is incredibly exciting and totally unpredicted. 

After a four day excavation, Duran discovered the partial skull on June 4. Both Kjelland and Duran were stunned—they hoped to find fossilized plant matter during this excavation. Instead of just learning more about the dinosaurs’ ecosystem in prehistoric times, the excavators found another Triceratops fossil to study. 

The skull, named after area owner Alice, took an entire week to unearth. Considering how old and fragile the skull was, the team had to solidify the fractured, mineralize bones with glue first. Once they could get it out of the ground, they covered Alice in plaster and foil as a protective barrier. Finally, they wrapped her up in a memory foam bed to further protect her pieces.

Now I know what you’re wondering: what’s going to happen to Alice? Duran hopes Alice can be displayed on UC Merced’s campus as an educational tool. For now, the focus is on keeping the site secret so they can look for more bones and prevent theft. 

Featured Image: Universal