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Bones from a horned dinosaur among 1st fossils unearthed at Highlands Ranch construction site

The location is an active construction site near a Wind Crest retirement community.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — A limb bone and several ribs from a horned dinosaur are among the first fossils uncovered after they were discovered at a Highlands Ranch construction site late last week.

"It’s always exciting to get a call about possible fossils, and I can’t wait to share more details as we continue to dig,” said Tyler Lyson, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, which has assembled a dig team to work at the site.

Lyson studies the evolution of dinosaurs and turtles with a focus on what was occurring in the Rocky Mountain region 66 to 68 million years ago. The fossils are embedded in rock layer that's about that age, DMNS said.

“Finds like this, while [are] relatively rare, are a great reminder of how dynamic our planet is and how much more there is out there to discover," Lyson added.

The fossils were discovered by construction workers near Wind Crest, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Maryland-based Erickson Living.

‘I’ve collected fossils for a long time so it’s kinda neat that I was the one who got to find it," said Michael Nyhus, a carpenter. 

He was eating an Italian style sandwich when his buddy came over to brag about what he saw. 

Nyhus says he stopped his buddy from putting the bones in his truck, and called the experts instead. 

"Right away I could see the scientific value of it," he said.

The construction site has not allowed media access. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science did provide a few photos.

Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Dinosaur Dig in Highlands Ranch, CO

"We are so grateful to Wind Crest and Brinkmann Constructors for allowing us the opportunity to evaluate this potentially important scientific find," said George Sparks, president and CEO at DMNS.

The location is an active construction site and there is no public access. 

"This is a remarkable discovery that our team takes great pride in unearthing," said David Rahm, project director with Brinkmann Constructors. "We are grateful for the scientific expertise brought to this discovery by DMNS and Wind Crest’s great generosity in sharing it."

Fossil finds are nothing new in Colorado, a rare fish fossil was discovered in southeastern Colorado -- one of only three of its kind in the world. The world’s first Stegosaurus fossil was found in Morrison, and one of the most complete Torosaurus skeletons was found in Thornton.

Credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Dinosaur Dig in Highlands Ranch, CO

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