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Million-Year-Old Triceratops Skull Found in North Dakota

Million-Year-Old Triceratops Skull Found in North Dakota

Harrison Duran, a fifth-year biology student, discovered a Triceratops skull during a paleontology dig in North Dakota.

Duran's dig partner, seasoned excavator and Mayville State University professor Michael Kjelland, had low expectations for the dig, hoping to find plant fossils - despite his finding another Triceratops skull in the area a year ago. Although Kjelland already found a Triceratops skull there two years ago, he assumed that he and Duran were only going to uncover plant fossils in the site.

"I think that the objective is to spark interest with the public, not just with dinosaurs but paleontological and scientific discovery", the student said.

Kjelland told CNN that he anticipates more bones will be uncovered at the site where Alice was discovered, as well as the site where he found a Triceratops skull previous year.

A paleontology dig proved to be a major success for an undergrad college student after he uncovered the partial skull of a Triceratops that roamed during the Cretaceous period, the longest portion of the Mesozoic Era.

The conditions for the excavation were ideal, Kjelland said, noting that it's not uncommon to ask property owners to explore their land in those areas.

The two of them chose to name the skull "Alice", in honor of the land owner.

"I can't quite express my excitement in that moment when we uncovered the skull", Mr Duran told his college website UC Merced, on Wednesday (local time).

Kjelland had invited Duran along after meeting him at a biotechnology conference, where Duran informed him of his love of fossils and dinosaurs, Kjelland told ABC News.

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Michael Kjelland with Alice after she has been treated with foil and plaster for protection.

"It took a full week to excavate Alice, whose fragile skull was meticulously stabilized with a specialized glue to solidify the fractured, mineralized bones, before an accelerant was applied to bond the structures", UC Merced said in a news release.

"There have been people in the past who have stolen dinosaur bones", Kjelland said in the release, explaining further that Dinosaur bones are extremely valuable.

In the meantime, Duran and Kjelland want to create a cast of the skull that can be displayed at UC Merced.

There have also been puncture marks found on fossil frills showing that male Triceratops also used their horns to fight each other, perhaps to impress females.

"My vision is to have Alice rotate locations", he said in a statement.

'The goal is to use this find as an educational opportunity, not just reserve Alice in a private collection somewhere so only a handful of people can see her'. By the fourth day, Duran struck gold.

"It would be wonderful for UC Merced to be able to display Alice on campus", Duran said. "It's such a rare opportunity to showcase something like this, and I'd like to share it with the campus community".


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