The headless skeleton of a 73 million-year-old dinosaur was uncovered in British Columbia.
Archaeologists spent five years on a hillside near the Alberta border to excavate the bones of a hadrosaur, the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in the province, Canadian Press reports.
"It's been time-consuming, but it's quite something to go from discovering a dinosaur and excavating it and removing it," McCrea said. He added, "We're likely to find a head at some point."
Helicopters airlifted the 2.2 tons of plaster-wrapped bones to the Tumbler Ridge Museum in Tumbler Ridge, BC, last week. Archaeologists speculate the duck-billed hadrosaur might have been scavenged by a tyrannosaurus rex whose teeth were found nearby.
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"The head would have been easy to take off after the hadrosaur died," McCrea said. "It's one of the weakest links on most animals because the head is fairly heavy."
Archaeologists say there are more dinosaurs in the area, with at least 30 more skeletons to be excavated from a “bone bed.”
Hadrosaurs, plant-eaters known for their duck-billed heads and some of the last dinosaurs to roam the earth, lived more than 65 million years ago. The herbivores had close to 3,000 teeth and measured about 40 feet long on average.
“They're the ones that had the really funky head gear, like the big long tubes extending back over the head, or the big frill running down the center of the head," Lisa Buckley, of the Peace Region Palaeontology Research Center, whose team discovered the first hadrosaur in BC four years ago, told the CBC.
Buckley added that the 73 million-year-old skeleton found isn’t the only one to be excavated headless. "It does not have its head, no. And it's following a disturbingly frustrating trend with other duck-billed dinosaur skeletons. It's very common for their heads to be missing," she said.
McCrea says his excavation disproves the commonly held belief that there are few fossils to be found in BC, whereas Alberta province is known to have a plethora of dinosaur fossils.
"It used to be thought, mainly by people in BC, that British Columbia doesn't have dinosaurs," he said. "It does obviously have them, now, but they're not in easy-to-get places."
The skeleton will be displayed at the Tumbler Ridge Museum in about a year.