A student who has been a fan of dinosaurs since childhood was one of a team of excavators who recently dug up the partial skull of a 65-million-year-old triceratops buried in an excavation site in North Dakota.
Harrison Duran, a student at the University of California at Merced, and Michael Kjelland were in a two-week palaeontological dig in June when they found the remains at Hell Creek Formation.
Duran and Kjelland, a biology professor at Mayville State University in North Dakota, founded the nonprofit organization Fossil Excavators after showing their love for the prehistoric creatures above the ground. "Duran and Kjelland called the Skull Alice.
It took a week to dig up the skull, which was so fragile that it had to be stabilized with glue and plaster, and according to Fossil Excavators, Alice is probably over 65 million years old.
"I can not feel my excitement at the moment When we discovered the skull, Duran said, "I've been obsessed with dinosaurs since childhood, so that was a pretty big deal."
According to the school, a local rancher and his family helped Duran and Kjelland safely loading Alice onto a truck, and the skull was then wrapped in a memory foam mattress for protection Kjelland's lab brought.
Fossil excavators said that in the coming months the skull preparation process will begin for research and public presentation.
"My vision is to change locations, Alice," said Kjelland of California University. "The goal is to use this find as a learning opportunity and not just reserve Alice in a private collection so that only a handful of people can see her."
Duran, a fifth-year biology student specializing in ecology and evolutionary biology, plans to return to North Dakota to help Kjelland research and prepare the fossil for the exhibition.
The two men plan to make a cast of the skull, with the hope that it can be exhibited at the University of Merced. Finally, Duran said he hoped to showcase the real Alice on campus.
According to Mayville State University, Kjelland found another Triceratops skull in the Hell Creek Formation area last year.