An oil company worker mining for crude oil in the vast expanse of tar and sand known as the Canadian oil sands unearthed a 110-million-year-old dinosaur fossil known as an Ankylosaur. This plant-eating dinosaur had powerful limbs, armature and a club-like tail. The discovery was not only unexpected but a complete surprise as this region in northern Alberta was completely covered by water millions of years ago.
In the words of Donald Henderson, a curator at Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum, which is devoted to dinosaurs:
“We’ve never found an Anklyosaur in this location. Because the area was once a sea, most finds are invertebrates such as clams and ammonites… It is pretty amazing that it survived in such good condition. It is also the earliest complete dinosaur that we have from this province.”
The dinosaur is expected to measure about 5 meters (16-1/2 feet) long and 2 meters (6-1/2 feet) wide. The fossil is highly unusual also because it is three-dimensional and not flattened by heavy rock sediment as most fossils are.
The Suncor Energy shovel operator who discovered the fossil had been clearing the ground for development. Work in the area has been suspended for three weeks so that scientists will have enough time to remove the fossil and ship it to the Royal Tyrrell museum.
The last major fossil find in northern Alberta occurred a decade ago near Fort McMurray. It was an Ichthyosaur, which is a giant reptile.
The past lies at our feet patiently waiting for us to discover it.
One can only wonder about the secrets that still lie beneath the surface of the soil.
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