On a list of things a construction crew in Thornton was expecting to discover, a triceratops was not one of them. As the digging continues, more of the triceratops is being unearthed.

You’ve probably heard about the triceratops fossils found in Thornton. But, on the off-chance you haven’t … there are triceratops fossils in Thornton!

The skull and skeleton were discovered on August 25 by a construction crew that had been working on a new public safety building. This marks the third triceratops skull found along the Front Range, according to Denver Museum of Nature and Science Curator of Dinosaurs Joe Sertich. When Sertich and his team went to the site, he said in a press release: “My heart was racing. As soon as (we) uncovered it and realized this was a horn of a triceratops and not just another leg bone or part of a hip, it made the site really exciting.”


photo courtesy of the City of Thornton

Sertich estimated that the triceratops has been in the site for at least 66 million years. Most of the other fossils found along the Front Range are from the Ice Age, so 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. This new find is much older, making it even rarer.

Museum staff have recently uncovered a second horn, scapula, ribs, vertebrae, the beak at the front of the lower jaw, pieces of the frill (shield of bones at the back of head), along with other small bones. And that’s just what they’ve found so far. Who knows what other parts of the triceratops are waiting to be unearthed?!

Eventually, the scientists at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science hope to have the fossils on display in an exhibit. While the team continues to excavate the area, work on the construction site will remain halted until they are through with the digging.

Ever since I found out about the triceratops, I’ve been eager to visit the site. But, as awesome as that would be (because come on, dinosaurs!), the site is limited to museum personnel, City of Thornton crews, and construction workers. Security is in place to ensure that the dinosaur has a safe journey to its new home at the museum.

You can stay updated on the triceratops by visiting the City of Thornton’s Facebook page!

What are your thoughts on this huge discovery, right in our backyard? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured photo courtesy of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science Twitter page.

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