Tuesday was no ordinary workday for one construction worker near Spirit River, Alberta. The backhoe operator was attempting to move some earth to make way for an oil pipeline when he broke off a piece of what he thought was rock. He set that piece aside and was about to get back to work when he noticed ... a massive dinosaur fossil, reports CBC News.
Needless to say, work stopped pretty much immediately, and experts were brought in to assess what they'd found.
Brian Brake, executive director of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, told the Edmonton Journal that the discovery is one of the "most complete finds in this part of the world in a long time." Preliminary assessments from the museum's paleontologists suggest the fossil belongs to some species of hadrosaur, a family of herbivores with duck bills that lived during the Upper Cretaceous Period.
"The last time I've seen something like that was in a museum," paleontologist Matthew Vavrek told CNN. "I've never found something like this before." Vavrek also said that the backhoe could have easily pulverized the entire find had the operator not been more attentive; the piece he initially broke off fell apart.
The paleontologists, along with the Tourmaline Oil Corp, are now working to extract the find along with any other bones they discover nearby — a process that could take weeks. They're hoping to remove all the bones before the first winter frost, which could freeze them into the ground.