Man planning bike trail finds dinosaur bones instead

The fossil is in pretty good shape ... even though it's 80 million years old ...

Imagine hiking on a trail and stumbling upon dinosaur bones. Well that's exactly what happened to a Colorado land management official when he was walking and planning out the new Palisade Plunge bike trail near Grand Junction.

In April, Chris Pipkin of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was surveying the new Palisade trail. He saw something strange in a boulder about five feet off the trail. Curious, he took a photo and sent it to his colleague Eric Eckberg. He confirmed it was indeed a dinosaur bone.

Eckberg is a geologist and paleontology coordinator for the BLM in Grand Junction. Upon receiving the photo, he mobilized a group of local paleontologists and even some BLM interns to help excavate the bone.

"It's in remarkably good shape for something that's roughly 80 million years old," Eckberg said.

The bone is two feet long and about two inches around. 

Eckberg says it likely belonged to a hadrosaur -- a group of dinosaur known for their duck-bills. Their bones have been found before in this area.

"It's kind of one of those career defining moments for me in a way," Eckberg said. "You don't get to go and extract a dinosaur bone that often."

The bone will now head to the Museum of West Denver. Experts will take a look at it and try to determine exactly what dinosaur it came from. They could even figure out how the dinosaur died.

That process takes a while though. The museum doesn't expect the bone to go on display for at least a couple months.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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