Construction Workers Find A Surprising Discovery Concealed In A Rock

Construction Workers Find A Surprising Discovery Concealed In A Rock

Dec 21, 2020James Montalvo

When you're in a blue-collar, working-with-your-hands, physically draining job you're more than likely to just want to do your job, get paid, and go home. Take for example construction workers, their jobs are the definition of hard labor. This is why making a historical discovery like the one these guys made was something totally unexpected for them and the scientific world. 

ONE IN A MILLION?

For one particular construction worker named Shawn Funk, his regular day on the job turned into a life-changing event. He was on assignment for Suncor Energy, working at the Millenium Mine in Alberta, Canada. The day started pretty normally for Shawn, everything went as it usually did. However, something truly surprising happened.

TURNED OUT TO BE QUITE A DAY

At the time, Suncor Energy set up a mining project to extract the crude oil available in the area. Shawn's job was to be the operator of a backhoe. He used his machine to dig deep and excavate sand, soil, gravel and whatever was keeping their project from their goal. Needless to say, he wasn't prepared for the coming events of that day.

ALL FOR THE PURSUIT OF CRUDE OIL

Suncor Energy chose this specific location because it was once home to a very rich plain of plants, animals, and a very healthy ecosystem. These days, under all dirt and rubble that have covered the area, plus millions of years of heat and pressure, those once-living organisms are now the much-coveted crude oil. But that wasn't what they found there.

HE KNEW DIRT AND ROCKS THE BEST

Though crude oil was the goal of the company, Shawn's daily encounters at work would only consist of sand, stone, and gravel. After more than a few days of doing the same thing, the construction worker had become accustomed to the sound of the materials he was digging out of the ground. When the sounds changed, he knew something was up.

SOMETHING WASN'T RIGHT

He shared that during his decade-long career excavating the ground with machines that the most unusual sound he had come across was hearing his machine hit petrified tree stumps. When he came back from his lunch break, he discovered that section of the site he was digging at was making a totally different sound. This got him concerned, to say the least.

FINDING OUT WHAT IT WAS

He decided to pull his machine back, putting a stop to his excavating. Shawn then unloaded the contents that his backhoe had pulled from the ground. Upon inspecting what he had found, he noticed unusually shaped and colored lumps. With a closer look, he found rows and rows of discs made from a material he didn't know. He was right, something is wrong.

MOVING IT UP THE CHAIN OF COMMAND

The discovery of this unusual material prompted Shawn to stop working and alter the higher-ups about what had happened. The top brass at Suncor Energy decided to reach out to Royal Tyrrell Museum. Sensing the urgency in the discovery, the museum sent out 2 specialists to inspect what had been found. Their trip over was definitely not in vain.

ON THE CUSP OF SOMETHING BIG

CBC News had reported that the head curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta said, “Right away, we knew it was going to be something good, but we had no idea how good it was going to be.” He was completely right, they were on the verge of discovering something great.

TEAMWORK FOR THE WIN

With the combined abilities of Suncor Energy's construction and excavation teams, plus the two specialists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Shawn's discovery was found to be a fossil attached to a mass weighing about 15000lbs. (6,000 kgs) It took the group twelve hours to carefully uncover the rest of the mass. However, it was more than just a fossil.

WHAT A BLUNDER

After half a day of slowly chipping away at the massive piece of rock, the team was able to free it. They even made it as far as to lift off the ground in once piece. Unfortunately, upon attempting to relocate the mass, and settle it on level ground, the massive fossil fell onto the ground and shattered. Despite the accident, more of its value was revealed.

A VIRAL SMASH

The shattered remains of the massive piece became a gigantic jigsaw puzzle that the museum's specialists had to put together again. When they finished they realized that Shawn's discovery was the remains of a prehistoric creature. One that was not turned into crude oil by millions of years of heat and pressure. Talk about a lucky break.

IT WAS ONE OF THOSE

As you may have already guessed, the two museum specialists reassembled the remains of a dinosaur. What's amazing about this discovery is that it was the bone fragments that were discovered and put back together. What was reassembled by the team was something far more valuable than what we're used to seeing in museums. 

A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE

Instead of a pile of fossilized bones, they put together pieces of an entirely petrified dinosaur. The resembled image of the creature was that of a realistic, nine-foot-tall dinosaur. Upon realizing this, more questions were raised. How was this even possible? What turned that dinosaur into an almost perfect mummy?

TIME TO FIND OUT MORE

The remains were sent to the museum where it was tested and researched even further. The results of the test were amazing. It was discovered that the creature lived over 110 million years ago, and is a similar species to other dinosaurs that had previously been uncovered around the western side of Canada. Now, they knew what it was.

THE TRUE DISCOVERY

On face value, it was correctly assumed that the dinosaur was an armored plant-eater. With more studying, scientists placed the beast around the genus of the Ankylosaurus. They finally concluded that the dinosaur was a completely new species, thus it required a unique name. They gave their new discovery quite a befitting name.

AWESOME NAME

This new type of dinosaur was given the official name of Borealopelta markmitchelli. The first part of its new name is Latin for “northern shield.” Which makes sense because it was discovered in Canada, and because of its armored nature. The second part of its name comes from the technician who's responsible for working on it.

THE NEED FOR A STEADY HAND

Because the fossils of the dinosaur were sent to the museum in pieces, it required special care and attention to make sure that they were reassembled and studied the best way possible. This responsibility and privilege were given to a technician named Mark Mitchell. The name was truly earned.

WELL DESERVED

Mark Mitchell spent over 7,000 hours which is roughly 5.5 years, separating chunks of rock as safely as possible from the fossilized dinosaur it was covering. During these years, the technician did close to nothing else. You can say that he really deserves to have his name attached to the dinosaur. It also has another name.

IT GOES BY ANOTHER NAME

To make things easier for kids to call it, the dinosaur also carries a name that covers a majority of its kind. The ancient being is also called a Nodosaur. As it is petrified, the beast weighs 2,500lbs, but if it was alive it could be as heavy as 3,000lbs. The true mystery for the scientific community is how the beast was preserved so well.

PREDATOR PROOF?

The Borealopelta's physique truly amazed the people working on it. Thanks to its well-preserved body, one can truly see that the dinosaur was covered in thick scales, making it a fully armored behemoth. On top of that, situated above its shoulders are 51cm long spikes, weapons for defense. The spikes might have been used for something else too.

A FIGHTER AND A LOVER

According to Victoria Arbour, curator of paleontology at the Royal British Columbia Museum, the spikes may have also been used 'for love'. She said, "When you see something like a huge spike, that could simultaneously be a signal to mates that you’re in good health.” But the question remains, how?

STILL A MYSTERY

As of 2019, the answer to how the Borealopelta was immortalized in such a well-preserved state remains unanswered. Though there are several theories, researchers are now trying to analyze its bones and what the contents of its stomach were before it died. However, they've encountered a few roadblocks along the way.

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE EASIEST THING

In a stroke of irony, the bones are usually the easiest to research when it comes to things like this. But apparently the ultra-preserved state and skin of the Borealopelta are obscuring their view. The team working on the dinosaur right now has even employed high tech machinery to try and peak through. 

OH SWEET IRONY

The Atlantic shares that the team says, "We’ve tried to use CT-scanners but so far that hasn’t been successful. The rock is too dense, but we hope future technology will let us look inside. Ironically, it’s too well preserved!” Nonetheless, it still gives anyone curious about what it would be like to stare a dinosaur in the face, a unique experience. Where is it now?

GO GET YOUR DOSE OF WONDER

Today, the Borealopelta Markmitchelli aka the Nodosaur is on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Every day it shocks and fills people visiting it with wonder. Hopefully, it inspires a new generation of scientists that want to discover as much about dinosaurs and the ancient world as the people who have worked on it.

Did this amazing discovery entertain you just as much as it caught Shawn Funk off guard? What did you think the discovery was before the big reveal? Let us know in the comment section. If you know anyone who's a big fan of dinosaurs make sure to share this with them! Check out our articles for more great content like this.

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