A seven-foot-long, 3,000 pound triceratops skull dubbed “Shady” has been unearthed in the Badlands of South Dakota.
“It was so exciting … we just didn’t believe it,” David Schmidt, a geology and environmental science professor at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, said in a statement last week. “Now we’re just living the dream out,” he added
Schmidt is referring to a childhood dream that began at the age of 5 when he found himself face to face with a hadrosaurus skeleton at the University of Kansas National Historical Museum in Lawrence. The experience affected Schmidt so profoundly that it led to a lifelong career of searching for treasure ― and his enthusiasm is contagious.
During their field research, the Westminster group usually expects to find fragments of dinosaur bone and the occasional isolated, complete bone. But everything changed when a rancher discovered something unusual poking out of the earth along a slope as he repaired a fence in the summer of 2019.
The rancher alerted the National Forrest Service, and their officials immediately contacted Schmidt. Schmidt concluded after careful examination that the object was the tip of a triceratops horn and would require months of careful excavation. He begrudgingly finished up his 2019 survey and made plans to return in the summer of 2020 after the Forest Service gave clearance for excavation.
The students named the gigantic triceratops skull “Shady” — for community members of the nearby town of Shadehill, South Dakota.
“Pick axes, shovels, a random telehandler, a backhoe, and a flatbed truck at long last brought Shady to the Westminster campus, where it is resting in a secure location until funds can be raised for restoration,” the college announced in its news release.
According to Westminster, additional bones will be dug up next summer in the South Dakota dirt. And I think we would be all very happy if they could find the body of this triceratops next year :-). Awesome find, guys!