A construction worker in Alberta, Canada, uncovered a dinosaur tail fossil while making way for an oil pipeline.
A backhoe operator working for Tourmaline Oil Corp. discovered the remains, which measured up to 32 feet long. The operator accidentally chipped off a piece of the fossil, but thought it was just a section of rock. He put the piece to the side, and went back to excavating the area. But when he noticed the exposed fossil in front of him, he stopped digging and work on the site was shut down until experts could be brought in. According to CBC, the fossil was buried about 1.5 meters (five feet) deep in the Saddle Hills area southwest of Spirit River.
Paleontologists from National Geographic and the Tyrell Museum arrived at the site Wednesday. Dr. Matthew Vavrek, head paleontologist of the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative, also went to the site to inspect the fossil, and was surprised by what he saw.
“As we walked around it, we saw this whole part of a tail of a dinosaur,” he said. “To see something like that is pretty incredible.”
Vavrek added, “The last time I’ve seen something like that was in a museum. I’ve never found something like this before.”
Experts said it could take several years to identify what type of dinosaur the tail belonged to.
In July, a 16-foot dinosaur tail was uncovered near the town of General Cepeda in northern Mexico. Other bones, including the dinosaur’s hips, were also found. The fossil was tentatively identified as a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur.
The dinosaur tail was first reported by locals in June 2012. The National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) performed an initial inspection, and then began the process of excavating the partial skeleton in July of this year. After 20 days, the INAH removed the sedimentary rock covering the dinosaur bones.