Workers at an oil sand site in Canada have found a 110 million-year-old fossil of a dinosaur previously unknown in that area, Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Museum announced.
Employees of Suncor Energy, the parent company of Sunoco and PetroCanada, stopped work last week near Fort McMurray, Alberta, when supervisor Michel Gratton and shovel operator Shawn Funk found a large lump of dirt with an unusual texture and diamond patterns.
They sent photos to the museum near Drumheller, 400 miles south, which dispatched a scientist and a technician to check it out.
They were expecting a marine reptile fossil, but were surprised when it turned out to be an ankylosaur, a squat, four-legged, vegetarian dinosaur that was covered with bony plates and had a tail like a club.
"We've never found a dinosaur in this location," said Dr. Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, 85 miles northeast of Calgary. "Because the area was once a sea, most finds are invertebrates such as clams and ammonites. ...
"To find an ankylosaur is totally unexpected here," he said. "Finding one of these animals anywhere is a rare occurrence."
Royal Tyrrell scientists planned to return to the site this week to oversee the fossil's removal from the ground and take it back to the museum for study, museum spokeswoman Leanna Mohan said.