A dinosaur dig team has unearthed the skeleton of a massive triceratops just east of Drumheller, Alta.

Palaeontologists took 12 long days unearthing the 2,000-kilogram — or 4,460-pound — triple-horned herbivore earlier this summer in a location that's about a 30-minute drive from Drumheller.

Dr. François Therrien, curator of dinosaur palaeoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, said it looked like a huge "log jam" of bones in the dirt.

Therrien says a former employee noticed the 65-million-year-old fossil that was poking up after being exposed by erosion.


A triceratops skeleton on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. (Royal Tyrrell Museum)

Once unearthed, it was discovered the vertebrae measured more than 60 centimetres tall and the ribs nearly two metres long.

Therrien says triceratops bones are more common in Saskatchewan and Montana.

"It will allow us to compare the Alberta triceratops to those we find in Saskatchewan and those we find in Montana and see if there are some differences," he said. "Maybe that discovery will provide us some information as to why triceratops is much rarer in Alberta than in Saskatchewan and Montana."

Plans are underway to display the skeleton at the Royal Tyrrell Museum later this year.

"If visitors come during the winter they'll be able to see that triceratops being prepared," he said. "As to when it will go on display, that's a big question. It will all depend on how long it takes to prepare the find."

Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum are located about 135 kilometres northeast of Calgary.