Frequently Asked Questions

When was the Torosaurus discovered?

It was discovered by a construction crew working at a site in Thornton, Colorado, north of Denver, on August 25.

 

Is this the first Torosaurus discovered in Colorado?

This is the first Torosaurus ever discovered in Colorado!

 

How did Saunders Construction know they found a fossil?

When digging through sand, dirt, and rock, skilled construction workers can tell when they’ve unearthed something unusual. We are grateful that Saunders Construction noticed what was happening and saved this fossil from damage.

 

Which bones have been discovered so far?

Horns, parts of the skull including jaws, the frill, shoulder blade, several vertebrae, lots of ribs, humerus, tibia, and one tooth from a scavenging T. rex.

 

Were all the bones discovered from this Torosaurus?

An estimated 95 percent of the skull and at least 20 percent of the skeleton have now been identified, making this the most complete Cretaceous Period fossil discovered in Colorado, and the most complete Torosaurus ever found anywhere in the world. Most animal skeletons are scattered after death, either by scavengers or by water, so it is rare to find all the bones. 

 

How big is a Torosaurus?

Torosaurus could be 20 to 30 feet long and up to 8 feet tall. However, this Torosaurus is smaller. It may not have been fully grown.

 

How long ago did the Thornton Torosaurus live?

Torosaurus lived during the end of the Cretaceous Period, between 68 and 66 million years ago, just before the extinction of the dinosaurs. This Torosaurus is from the very end of this window, likely just over 66 million years old.

 

Is the Torosaurus male or female?

It is impossible to tell based on the bones that have been unearthed.

 

How long will it take to get the Torosaurus out of the ground?

We are working as fast as we can, but hopefully not too much longer.

 

What happens after you excavate the Torosaurus?

The excavation team digs around the fossils, then encases them in a protective plaster jacket. Once back at the Museum, the jackets are carefully cut open. Skilled lab staff and volunteers use very small, precise instruments that look a lot like dental picks to meticulously sort through every piece of bone collected. They clean out the dirt, and save any small fragments or microfossils that may be near the larger bones. They piece it all together to understand what they have. This entire process is called preparation, and it is likely to take several more months to complete a fossil of this size.

 

Will the Museum display the Torosaurus?

The Torosaurus fossils are on display at the Museum in their plaster jackets. They may be viewed in the Museum’s Paleo Lab, which guests can access inside the Prehistoric Journey exhibition. Because preparation will take about a year, future plans for research and exhibition of the Torosaurus are still to be determined. The Museum will safely preserve the Torosaurus fossil for generations to come. 

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