A college student made a discovery from “the land before time” on the latest paleontology dig: He unearthed a partial Triceratops skull.
Harrison Duran, a fifth-year biology student from the University of California, Merced, discovered the 65-million-year-old fossil in the badlands of North Dakota.
“I can not quite express my excitement at that moment after we uncovered the skull,” Duran stated in a university-issued news release. “I have been obsessive about dinosaurs since I used to be a child, so it was a pretty big deal.”
The fossil was found in a part of the Hell’s Creek Formation, identified amongst specialists as a treasure trove for fossils from totally different eras — specifically, the Upper Cretaceous and lower Paleocene eras, or wherever from 100.5 to 23 million years in the past. The rock formation spans Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Duran was accompanied by Michael Kjelland, an “experienced excavator” and biology professor at Mayville State University in North Dakota. The two met at a convention and bonded over their love of dinosaurs, later teaming to type a nonprofit firm, Fossil Excavators.
Kjelland organized their dig at Hell’s Creek — though he previously discovered a Triceratops skull there, he anticipated he and Duran would only discover plant fossils this time around, based on the release.
The two of them determined to call the skull “Alice,” in honor of the landowner. The skull was discovered amongst plant fossils from the Cretaceous period, offering insight into what the Earth may need to have been like when Alice died.