A Vancouver Island chiropractor on a camping trip in Tumbler Ridge, B.C., discovered a stunning addition to B.C.'s dinosaur fossil collection: the province's first dinosaur skull.

Rick Lambert, along with his wife Sonia, had been spending time exploring the hiking trails in the area in B.C.'s northeast.

The Tumbler Ridge area has yielded many hundreds of dinosaur bones and footprints since the first discovery in the region in 2001.

"The area is littered with fossils," he explained.

"I am always looking for things like that. I find it quite fun to walk around the landscape and keep an eye out. I was wandering along the creek and I just saw it."

B.C. Dinosaur skull

Rick Lambert poses beside his discovery. (Charles Helm)

"It was obvious to me that there was something unusual in the rock. So, I got a bit closer and had a look," Lambert said.

"As soon as I looked, I could see that it had teeth — about 12 teeth — and it had what looked like fragments of bone built into the structure of the fossil above the teeth.

"That's when I realized I had an interesting find and not another mollusk."

Listen to the interview with Rick Lambert on Daybreak North:

Lambert photographed the specimen, noted its GPS location and contacted the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre to alert them to his find.

They were shocked and elated and were able to transport the specimen — which is embedded in a 100 kilogram boulder — back to the museum for further study within a short time.

B.C. Dinosaur skull

A tyrannosaurid skull is outlined in black, with the portion identified near Tumbler Ridge shown in gray. (Peace Region Palaeontology Research Centre)

"This is the first theropod dinosaur skull to be found in B.C., and is therefore of great significance to the province," said Richard McCrea, the museum's director in a release.

"We were fortunate that it was portable and reasonably accessible ... We are most grateful to Dr. Rick Lambert for reporting his discovery to us."

McCrea believes the skull belongs to a tyrannosaurid like Albertosaurus and is probably around 75 million years old.

albertosaurus_tyrell-306px

Albertosaurus — which roamed western North America in the Late Cretaceous Period — generally grew to nine to 10 metres long and weighed up to two metric tonnes.


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