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Dinosaur toes found in Alberta's Badlands leads to fossil find

Researchers at the University of Alberta are chipping away at a rock hoping to learn more about a newly discovered set of fossils.

Fossilized dinosaur toes were sticking out of the side of a hill when the discovery was made

While the dinosaur toes are not pictured here, the discovery led to multiple fossil finds in Alberta's Badlands. (Dr. Philip Currie, Dr. Eva Koppelhus, Clive Coy/University of Alberta)

Researchers at the University of Alberta are chipping away at a rock to learn more about a newly discovered set of fossils.

Paleontologists collected a specimen two weeks ago from the Badlands near Brooks that appears to contain fossilized dinosaur toes. 

Paleontologists from the University of Alberta led last June's expedition with 15 other members of the international Explorers Club. (Dr. Philip Currie, Dr. Eva Koppelhus, Clive Coy/University of Alberta)

They are now removing the rock around them to prepare the fossils for further study — a cleanup process that will take some time. 

"I calculate it will be a year plus before I have finished it, and we have conducted the necessary research on it to truly say what it is and its significance," said dinosaur palaeobiology chief technician Clive Coy.

At this point, researchers are speculating that the bones may have belonged to a small meat-eater that roamed Alberta 75 million years ago.

International team allowed in off-limit area

It was part of a joint venture in June between University of Alberta researchers and 15 international members of the Explorers Club. The group believes the area has not been visited by "dinosaur hunters" in more than 100 years.

"The idea was to access areas of the Badlands along the Red Deer River that are not accessible by road, difficult on foot and closed without special permits," said Coy.

The group also found half a dozen other skeletons in the area.

"We found good specimens, including an ankylosaur skull and a juvenile ceratopsian jaw — both very rare."

The team camped in several locations. They had permits to collect in the park and to access areas that are off-limits to the public. (Dr. Philip Currie, Dr. Eva Koppelhus, Clive Coy/University of Alberta)
The area in Alberta's Badlands where the researchers were searching for fossils is normally off-limits, but the team acquired special permits. (Dr. Philip Currie, Dr. Eva Koppelhus, Clive Coy/University of Alberta)
Researchers say they have found at least a half a dozen other skeletons that they need to investigate. (Dr. Philip Currie, Dr. Eva Koppelhus, Clive Coy/University of Alberta)
Last June's expedition canoed down the Red Deer River, not far from the southern Alberta city of Brooks. (Dr. Philip Currie, Dr. Eva Koppelhus, Clive Coy/University of Alberta)

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