It started with a family fishing trip, and ended with a discovery 80 million years in the making.
An Alberta father and his two sons were strolling along a riverbank last August when the older boy spotted an ancient fossil in the water from a never-before-seen breed of dinosaur. The rare discovery was announced last week, and on Tuesday, the Alberta trio shared the tale of its discovery with CTV Calgary.
Jared Cappon, 14, says he spotted the black shape of a fossil embedded in a river boulder on his way to his favourite fishing spot. He thought it was a tire tread at first, but when he returned to it after a day of fishing, he saw it was something more.
“It was a spine and not a track, and I realized there was a skull on it, too,” he told CTV Calgary on Tuesday.
“Jared and Aiden are big-time naturalists, so I thought it was a frog or some sort dead animal or bone,” said Evan, the two boys’ father. “It was a dead animal alright, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.”
Jared and his fishing companions, dad Evan and 11-year-old brother Aiden, tried to move the boulder, but it was far too heavy to bring home. That’s when they called the dinosaur experts at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.
The boulder weighed a metric ton, and museum experts had to use a helicopter to remove it from the riverbed. It now resides at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, where scientists expect to spend upwards of two years excavating the skull, spine and chest of the dinosaur from the hardened rock containing it.
Paleontologist Donald Henderson says he’ll get the opportunity to name the dinosaur, if indeed it is a new breed of hadrosaur.
“We’ll probably work the locality name in, or the people who found it, or something like that,” Henderson said on Tuesday.
The fossil was found near the tiny town of Pincher Creek, west of Lethbridge in southwestern Alberta. Henderson says hadosaur bones have never been found in that part of the province.