Boy, 12, discovers rare dinosaur skeleton in remote part of Canada

Elias Hubbard
October 16, 2020

"I was so excited that I didn't feel that excited, I was just so in shock".

"These animals were probably the most common in Alberta in the late Cretaceous period, they were probably as common as deer were today", Therrien said.

Few juvenile skeletons have been recovered in the Badlands, and Nathan's discovery is even more notable due to the skeleton's location in the rock formation, which preserves few fossils.

"We sent pictures to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and François, the palaeontologist who replied, was able to identify one of the bones as a humerus from the photos so we knew we'd found something this time", Nathan said.

Have you ever heard that saying: It takes one to know one?

While scientists know that there were dinosaurs on the continent, they do not know if there were older species during that time or if newer ones were around.

Nathan said the experience has motivated him even more to pursue his dream. Scientists are now working to figure out which species Nathan's dinosaur belongs to.

So this summer Nathan chose to inspect.

They were just finishing lunch when Nathan climbed up the hill to take a look. "They have the bills nearly like ducks and they're herbivores and they stand on two feet - that sort of thing".

A conservation team has been sent to the site and, since Nathan's find, upwards of 50 additional fossils have been found in the canyon's walls.

Curator of Dinosaur Paleontology Francois Therrien went to the area with the family to examine what they had found. "The discovery made by Nathan is a young individual of a duck-billed dinosaur", says Therrien.

According to the NCC, the way the Hrushkins handled the find was a "perfect example" of what to do when discovering fossils - leaving them undisturbed in the ground, recording one's location via Global Positioning System, and reporting the find along with photos to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Leila believed deeply in the importance of maintaing the canyon's natural state and worked for many years as an interpreter, where she introduced visitors to its many unique features.

In July, a whole team of paleontologists descended on the site.

"This is very significant for the Nature Conservancy of Canada because when we talk about land conservation we talk often about the benefit for future generations but this is a really good opportunity to point out how conserving important landscapes also help us unearth mysteries of our planet's history", said Carys Richards the communications manager with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

After months of work by technicians from the museum the bones are in protective plaster jackets and being moved out of the canyon to the museum where they'll be worked on for well over a year.

Hadrosaur fossils are pretty common in Alberta.

"This is an impressive collection of dinosaur bones that are 69 million years old". "So now, the discovery that Nathan made is of great significance because it fills those gaps".

"I've been aspiring to become a paleontologist for as long as I can remember", he said.

"I never expected to find (anything) significant like this", said Hrushkin senior.

Nathan and his dad go searching for dinosaur bones every summer.

"He called down to me, he's like, 'Dad, you need to get up here, ' and as soon as he said that I could tell by the tone in his voice that he found something", Dion Hrushkin said. "Now we have to try to outdo ourselves from the skeleton". "It's going to be hard".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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