Walk around with Dylan Dewitt for just a few minutes and the Denver Gem and Mineral show and you’ll realize just how much he knows about fossils.

“So these little bugs were around for 250 million years,” the 18-year-old said while holding up a small snail-like fossil.

Dewitt was 15 when he started volunteering at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. That’s where a veteran paleontologist gave him his first big break.

“Over time he eventually came up to me and asked if I wanted to work on this mastodon fossil, and I would be an idiot if I said no to that,” laughed Dewitt.

He is Mike Getty, the museum’s chief fossil preparator. Most recently, he was the man in charge of the excavation of the rare triceratops bones found in Thornton.

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“Mike’s favorite groups of dinosaurs were the ceratopsians,” Dewitt said.

Dylan is still getting used to saying was and were.

The Museum says Mike died unexpectedly at the excavation site Monday. While they wouldn’t say how he died, they did say it was not a construction-related incident.

Getty was 50 years old.

In those five decades, he uncovered herds of centrosaurs in Canada, discovered a new dinosaur species in Utah, and gave kids like Dylan a purpose.

“I think his passing has more than ever inspired me to pursue my career,” Dewitt said.

He plans to become a paleontologist.

“His memories can live on through me and everyone else he’s touched his life with,” he said.