Backhoe operator discovers rare 35-foot dinosaur fossil

Credit: Tourmaline Oil. Corp. via the Edmonton JournalCredit: Tourmaline Oil. Corp. via the Edmonton Journal

After all the interesting bones and artifacts discovered on jobsites this year alone, we’re beginning to wonder what archaeologists would do without construction crews. The latest addition to the list is rare type of dinosaur fossil find.

While clearing a site for the installation of an oil pipeline in Spirit River, Alberta, Canada, a backhoe operator dropped his bucked into the dirt and directly onto a piece of rock, according to the report from CNN.

However, when the bucket came back up it carried chunks of the rock with it that quickly crumbled. The backhoe operator immediately stopped the machine to investigate. A short time later the crew was looking for someone who knew anything about dinosaurs.

Eventually paleontologist Matthew Vavrek was called in. What he found surprised him.

“As we walked around it, we saw this whole part of a tail of a dinosaur. To see something like that is pretty incredible,” he told CNN. “The last time I’ve seen something like that was in a museum. I’ve never found something like this before.”

At this point, Vavrek and his team can’t tell what kind of dinosaur they’ve found. Judging by what they can see so far, the level of preservation of the piece of tail that’s visible makes them hopeful that the rest of the dinosaur is there in the rock.

The Tourmaline Oil Corp has decided to devote its workers and machinery to helping Vavrek and his colleagues remove the fossil from the dirt. The process will be slow going as delicate care is taken to not damage the fossil. It could take weeks, or months if cold weather freezes the dinosaur into the ground, to remove it.

According to another report from the Edmonton Journal, Andy Neuman, executive director of the Royal Tyrrell Musuem, said the fossil appears to be the tailbone of a hadrosaur, a duck-billed leaf eater that was probably 33 to 50 feet long.