While hiking with his father in the Alberta region of Canada in July, a 12-year-old boy discovered a 69 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton. The archaeological excavations ended this Thursday, October 15.
The boy, Nathan Hrushkin, has been passionate about dinosaurs since he was 6 years old. This fortuitous discovery surprised him, he was “literally speechless,” he told CBC.
“When I saw him, it was obvious. It was a bone. He looked like the ones you see on television, ”Nathan said.
With the help of his father, the young amateur paleontologist sent a series of photos of his discovery to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, in order to seek the advice of the scientific community. The latter obviously confirmed Nathan’s extraordinary discovery, even specifying the species: it is a young hadrosaur, otherwise known as the duck-billed dinosaur.
A discovery of great importance
For Francois Therrien, the museum’s paleontologist, said a find like this in Horseshoe Canyon is rare, and the one Nathan made is of great importance because it fills a whole series of gaps.
Since Nathan’s discovery, between 30 and 50 bones have been found by paleontologists in the canyon wall, all of which belong to a single young hadrosaur aged three to four. “These animals were probably the most common in Alberta at the end of the Cretaceous, they were probably as common as deer are today,” said François Therrien.
But few juvenile skeletons have been found in the Badlands, and Nathan’s find is even more remarkable because of the skeleton’s location in the rock formation, which generally retains few fossils.
On Thursday, the young boy was able to join the researchers to watch them collect the last bones from the site, with the aim of then bringing them back to the museum to clean and study them.
Since this discovery, Nathan has continued to roam the area in search of new vestiges of the past.