A large dinosaur fossil has been found by a pipeline crew near Spirit River, Alta.

Spirit River dinosaur fossil close up

An additional section of the fossil find near Spirit River in northwestern Alberta. ( Courtesy: Tourmaline Oil Corp.)

The 10-metre-long fossilized skeleton was found Tuesday when a backhoe operator working on the Tourmaline Oil Corp. pipeline installation moved some earth, inadvertently breaking off a piece of the fossil.

Thinking he had simply chipped off a section of rock, the backhoe operator laid the piece to the side and turned to resume excavation work.

That’s when he saw the exposed fossil in the embankment in front of him.

Spirit River dinosaur fossil

Another view of the 10-metre dinosaur fossil. ( Courtesy Tourmaline Oil Corp.)

As soon as he saw the fossil, the operator stopped digging and work on the site was shut down until experts could be brought in, said Art Wegner, speaking for the Acuren Group Inc.

Palaeontologists from the Tyrell Museum and National Geographic arrived at the site Wednesday and will soon be joined by Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative head palaeontologist, Dr. Matthew Vavrek.

The fossil was found buried about 1.5 metres deep in the Saddle Hills area southwest of Spirit River.

Check out this timeline of other notable dinosaur discoveries in Alberta:


  • The length of the fossil is closer to 10 metres, not 30 metres as previously reported by researchers.
    Oct 03, 2013 12:31 PM MT