At just 12 years old, Nathan Hrushkin went through an experience that many will not have in his life: found a 69 million year old dinosaur fossil.
He was walking in a park in the province of Alberta, Canada, when he saw bones next to a rock. This happened in July, and on Thursday (10/15) the complete excavation of the fossils was completed.
The boy says that when he first saw the material, he was “literally speechless”.
“I didn’t even get excited, despite knowing that I should have been,” he told the BBC.
Nathan, who has been interested in dinosaurs since he was six years old, often walks with his father in the Alberta Badlands conservation unit.
“I have always been fascinated by the fact that their bones, similar to ours, become something like solid rock.”
The father, Dion Hrushkin, says that the items actually looked like “bones made of stone”.
“It felt like the end of a femur, coming straight out of the ground,” recalls Dion.
Fossils discovered by Nathan belonged to a hadrosaurus – Photo: Nature Conservancy of Canada via BBC
Nathan already knew that fossils were protected by law, so when he and his father returned home, they looked for the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta, which is dedicated to the study of prehistoric items. The institution asked them to send photos and GPS coordinates of the find.
Badlands Park is home to many fossils, and the dinosaur, named Albertosaurus, was discovered there by Canadian explorer Joseph Tyrell in the late 19th century.
But the part where father and son were walking was not known to have so many fossils, so the museum sent a team to explore it.
So far, they have found between 30 and 50 bones in a canyon wall, all belonging to a young hadrosaur, estimated to be three or four years old.
“I was probably like most kids, having the Tyrannosaurus rex as a favorite type, “says Nathan.
“But after my discovery, I definitely prefer hadrosaur.”
The set found is scientifically significant, says the museum, because it’s about 69 million years old – and records from that period are rare.
“This young hadrosaur is a very important discovery because it comes from a period about which we know very little about the dinosaurs or animals that lived in Alberta. Nathan and Dion’s finding us will help fill this big gap in our knowledge of dinosaur evolution“said the museum’s paleoecology curator, François Therrien, in a statement.
Nathan says he enjoyed learning more about dating dinosaur bones and that the whole process was “surreal”.
“It will be great to see, after months of work, something finally get off the ground,” said the boy.
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