Rare fossil discovered by Alberta fishermen

Rare fossil

Rare fossil of a potentially new species of duck-billed dinosaur. Photo is courtesy of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology

Two fishermen along the banks of Castle River made an incredible discovery of a rare fossil, a find apparently made possible by the 2013 floods in southern Alberta, Canada.

Encased in a very hard and heavy boulder were the remains of a potentially new species of duck-billed dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period dating 66 million to 100 million years ago, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller, Alberta, announced Wednesday.

Museum officials believe the 2,500-pound boulder with the rare fossil became exposed when it was dislodged from a section of riverbank far upstream by the unusually high river flow rates and levels in the summer of 2013.

rare fossil

Dr. Donald Henderson points to the head area of the rare fossil in this screen grab from the video

"Based on the eroded and exposed teeth, as well as its size, we are confident that it is a hadrosaurian dinosaur," Dr. Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the museum, said. "These animals were very common in Cretaceous Alberta, but this is an entirely new area to find dinosaurs for us, and gives us hope that we might find more in the future."

The weight of the boulder required it to be extracted from the river by helicopter, taking five men to get the retrieval net underneath it so a helicopter could carry it to a waiting truck for transport back to the museum.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum released this video about the rare fossil and where it was found:

The rare fossil includes parts of the dinosaur's neck, chest, and skull, according to CTV News. Parts of the spine, jaw, and teeth are clearly visible.

It's considered rare because the dinosaur skull appears to be intact and in its original shape whereas most skulls are found either flattened or crushed, museum researchers say.

Teeth in a fossil

Teeth in the fossil can be seen in this closeup screen grab from the video

duck-billed dinosaur

Rare fossil shows the neck vertebra of what is potentially a new species of duck-billed dinosaur. Photo is a screen grab from the video

In the coming months, researchers will be studying the rare fossil to determine whether or not it is a new species.

"This is coming from a place where we haven't had dinosaurs before," Henderson said in the video. "It's in the extreme southwest of the province. So I think this will be a significant specimen. We're going to learn a lot from it."

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