A construction worker clearing the way for a Canadian pipeline made a rare discovery—a massive dinosaur fossil—when he accidentally cut into it with a backhoe.
The backhoe operator, an employee of Tourmaline Oil Corp. in Calgary, Alberta, first thought he had broken off a piece of rock, only to realize that he had just dug up a chunk of fossilized dinosaur tail.
The construction worker immediately stopped digging, and work at the site, near Spirit River, Alberta, was halted until experts could be brought in.
The fossilized tail, thought to be about 100 feet long, was found about five feet deep in the ground in early October. Experts believe the tail belongs to a 35-foot-long dinosaur still fossilized inside the rock, the International Business Times reported.
Dr. Matthew Vavrek, a palaeontologist for the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, went to the site, along with paleontologists from the Royal Tyrrell Museum and National Geographic.
Twitter / Royal Tyrrell Museum
Experts are working to unearth a massive dinosaur fossil after a pipeline construction crew sliced into its tail with a backhoe.
"As we walked around it, we saw this whole part of a tail of a dinosaur," Vavrek told CNN.
He explained that dinosaur fossils are usually found broken up and spread about in tiny pieces.
"To see something like that is pretty incredible. The last time I've seen something like that was in a museum," Vavrek said.
The tailbone looks like it's from a hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous Period, according to The Edmonton Journal.
However, Vavrek said that even if the dinosaur is something scientists are familiar with, it could take years to categorize it.
Since the discovery, workers have been carefully trying to excavate the delicate fossil, with the help of equipment borrowed from Tourmaline. Removal could take weeks—or longer, if cold weather sets in and freezes the dinosaur into the ground.
The fossil will be removed with a large chunk of the soil surrounding it, then transported to a research facility where excavators will delicately chip away at the soil with small hammers to expose the bones.
Not Your Typical Work Day
Construction crews have been unearthing all kinds of gems lately.
In July, workers preparing to build residential towers in San Francisco discovered a cargo boat from the California Gold Rush period.
A rail crew digging tunnels in London found about 20 ancient skulls, along with Roman pottery, in October.
Thirty graves with human remains, possibly 2,000 years old, were discovered in Mexico by construction crews in July.
Also in July, workers in Atlanta found a live cannonball, thought to be from the Civil War.