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Triceratops skull found in Alberta foothills goes on display

It was found along Callum Creek, a tributary of the Oldman River, almost two hours south of Calgary
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Dr. Caleb Brown, left and Garry McCue hold the piece of Triceratops horn being donated to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Note: Image was altered to remove location-identifying information. (Photos by Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)

The Royal Tyrrell Museum says the best preserved and most complete triceratops skull found in Canada is now on display in Alberta.

The massive skull is part of the Drumheller museum’s “Fossils in Focus” exhibit, which is updated each fall to feature the latest significant finds and new research.

“It is the most complete and best preserved triceratops (skull) in Canada,” Caleb Brown, curator of dinosaur systematics and evolution, said in an interview.

“Triceratops is not overly uncommon from the U.S. There’s a fair number of them, but it’s quite rare in Canada.”

He said the nearly two-metre-long by two-metre-wide skull was found in 2014 and collected by technicians in 2015 during a survey after the 2013 floods hit southern Alberta.

“Over the course of a couple of years, they found more than 200 new fossil sites and they collected almost 500 specimens,” he said.

“The best thing they found, in my opinion, was this beautiful skull.”

The triceratops lived 68 to 69 million years ago and its skull was discovered in the southwestern Alberta foothills, an area where dinosaur fossils are uncommon.

It was found along Callum Creek, a tributary of the Oldman River, almost two hours south of Calgary.

Brown said the skull spent many years in the lab getting prepared for research and display.

“Even though the specimen was found in one piece, we kind of had to exploit existing breaks in the block to take it out in smaller chunks,” he said. “It would be way too heavy otherwise.”

Staff at the museum spent more than 6,500 hours over seven years preparing the fossil — nicknamed “Cali” for the area where it was found. They removed more than 815 kilograms of hard rock to expose the skull.

“The skull itself weights almost 500 kilos,” said Brown. “It’s quite massive.”

It’s believed to be a dinosaur that wasn’t fully developed, meaning it could have gotten even larger if it had lived longer.

Brown said there will also be scientific research related to the fossil coming out.

The new “Fossils in Focus” exhibit also has dinosaur footprints, another horned dinosaur skull, a fossil crocodile and plant fossils.

Colette Derworiz in Calgary, The Canadian Press