Newly excavated dinosaur skull coming to Ottawa
Two-year excavation ends with trip to Canadian Museum of Nature
A massive dinosaur skull is about to make its way to Ottawa from the Alberta badlands, where it's been hidden for tens of millions of years.
The skull belongs to Chasmosaurus canadensis, a relative of the Triceratops.
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"It's got two long horns over the eyes, it's got a horn over the nose and a big frill coming out of the back of the head. And the whole skull itself is probably close to six feet long," Jordan Mallon, a research scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
Along with the rock that still encases part of the skull and the plaster jacket used to collect the mass, it all weighs about a tonne, he said.
Saturday marks the end of a two-year-long process to get the skull out of the badlands.
Mallon and his team found the fossil at the end of the 2015 excavation season.
"I saw some bone poking out of the side of a mudstone wall," he said.
So, they started digging to see what was there, but it didn't take long to discover what the find was.
"The bone texture of horned dinosaur skulls is very distinctive," he said.
As they kept digging, he realized they had found a nearly complete skull. They've spent last year excavating the skull and are now finally transporting it out of its ancient resting place.
Risky travel could damage skull
But the journey isn't without risks.
Since there's no road to where the skull was found, it will be slung from a helicopter in a net and flown over the uneven terrain of the badlands before being packed in a crate at the Royal Tyrell Museum and shipped to Ottawa.
The helicopter ride makes Mallon nervous because of what happened to another fossil.
"There was one unfortunate incident, where I guess the wind picked up, or the load was awkward, and the line had to be cut and the dinosaur smashed all over the ground," he said.
Once the skull makes it back to Ottawa, it will be researched and prepared for display. Mallon said he hopes it will be ready for the public in time for the museum's open house in October.