California college student discovers 65-million-year-old Triceratops skull

Harrison Duran poses with Alice.                      
    University of California Merced

Harrison Duran poses with Alice. University of California Merced

A USA college student made the discovery of a lifetime when he dug up a 65-million-year-old triceratops skull while on a paleontology dig in the North Dakota Badlands. He and intern Harrison Duran excavated the bone in early June and named the dinosaur Alice.

Kjelland had already uncovered a triceratops skull at the site previous year, and the duo were now back to see what else they could uncover.

"I can't quite express my excitement in that moment when we uncovered the skull", Duran said in a university-issued news release.

Duran went on the two-week dig with fellow "bone digger" Michael Kjelland, an experienced excavator and biology professor at Mayville State University in North Dakota.

"I think that the goal is to spark interest with the public, not just with dinosaurs but paleontological and scientific discovery", the student said.

The skull was found among plant fossils from the Cretaceous period, providing insight into what the Earth might have been like when Alice died.

One college student made a discovery from "the land before time" on a recent paleontology dig: He unearthed a partial Triceratops skull.

Triceratops, which literally means the one with the three-horned face, was an herbivorous dinosaur found 68-66 million years ago in North America, according to Natural History Museum.

The discovery of Alice only added to the amount of skulls they have located in this specific area.

For fifth-year student Harrison Duran, discovering the remains of the horned dinosaur was a dream come true.

Michael Kjelland poses with Alice after she has been treated with foil and plaster for protection.

'It is wonderful that we found fossilised wood and tree leaves right around, and even under, the skull, ' Mr Duran said. Since the fossil basically "just wants to crumble", they must brush away a half an inch at a time before applying a specialized glue to solidify bones, and repeat until the fossil is completely uncovered, he said.

The landowners donated the skull to Fossil Excavators, a non-profit ran by Kjelland.

While Alice's future is still to-be-determined, Duran and Kjelland plan to create a cast of the skull that can be displayed at UC Merced.

When working on a different skull he invited Duran from California to help excavate the dinosaur.

"My vision is to have Alice rotate locations", he said in a statement.

Kjelland hopes that Alice will serve as an educational tool and travel from museum to museum - and even the UC Merced campus on day - rather than be sold as part of a private collection. "It's such a rare opportunity to showcase something like this, and I'd like to share it with the campus community", he said.

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