A final bone, part of the sacrum, was uncovered at Thornton, Colo., site.

DENVER―Sept. 19―The Denver Museum of Nature & Science has concluded its excavation of a Triceratops at the construction site for the City of Thornton’s Public Safety Facility. An estimated 80 percent of the Triceratops skull and 15 percent of the skeleton were recovered, making this the most complete Cretaceous-period fossil ever discovered in Colorado.


On Monday morning, the Museum excavation team knew there were a few ribs and vertebrae left to collect at the site when they began work. At around 1 p.m. that afternoon, part of the sacrum – the backbone between the hips – was unearthed when a skid steer was clearing away some dirt 15 feet from where the Triceratops horn and shoulder blade were first discovered.


“I’m excited to start preparing everything we collected from the Thornton site and to get started on the science,” Joe Sertich, Denver Museum of Nature & Science curator of dinosaurs, said. “The fossils we’ve collected will help us build on our understanding of what the Thornton area was like 66 million years ago.”


Now that the excavation is complete, the Museum will continue working with the City of Thornton and School District 27J to raise awareness about the fossil and provide updates on the research being conducted.


“One of the biggest questions I had, and many others wondered about as well, was when will we finish. It’s always difficult to say how long an excavation like this will take,” Sertich said. “We are very appreciative of the collaboration with Saunders Construction, Inc. and the City of Thornton for allowing us the opportunity to collect this Triceratops and preserve it for the citizens of Colorado.”


The dig was postponed last week after the sudden death of the Museum’s chief preparator, Mike Getty, during the excavation. Getty was one of the most accomplished dinosaur hunters in the world, having conducted excavations in Africa, Madagascar and across North America. During his career, he collected dozens of new species of dinosaurs and other fossils and trained countless paleontologists in fieldwork and lab preparation. His impact on the field of paleontology will be felt for decades to come and his skill and presence dearly missed by his colleagues and friends.


On Monday, Aug. 28, the City of Thornton and the Museum confirmed that a Triceratops fossil was partially unearthed at the construction site of Thornton’s newest city building.


For videos, photos and more information about the project, visit /press-room/press-kits/thornton-triceratops/.


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