Dinosaur excavation concluded at Highlands Ranch construction site

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Crews from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science work on dinosaur fossils discovered in Highlands Ranch in May 2019. (Photo: © DMNS/Rick Wicker)

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo.– The excavation of Triceratops fossils at Wind Crest, a continuing care retirement community developed and managed by Erickson Living in Highlands Ranch, has been completed, according to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

“We ended the dig with the excavation of a nicely preserved vertebra. The rule of thumb is to dig one meter around the last unearthed fossil and if no other fossils are found within that meter it is unlikely any others will be recovered,” said Tyler Lyson, the Museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology. “We again express our sincere gratitude to the staff and residents of the Wind Crest community and to Brinkmann Constructors for allowing us to excavate the fossils. Thank you especially to the Erickson Living team for donating the fossils to the Museum.”

The fossils were discovered on private land owned by Erickson Living, so it was the organization’s decision about what to do with the fossils, according to a release from the museum.

“The discovery and excavation of the Triceratops fossils on campus has been a thrilling experience for our residents and staff,” said Craig Erickson, Executive Director at Wind Crest. “It is our honor to donate these incredible artifacts to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for further study. We are grateful to the Museum’s expert staff and the team at Brinkmann Constructors for their partnership in preserving this this important part of Colorado history and sharing it with the greater community.”

Construction continued at the site while the Museum team was excavating the fossils, stated in the release.

“Our team’s attentiveness to site details during excavation led to this great treasure. We are all very proud and grateful to have been partners with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and our client at Wind Crest on this lasting contribution to science and learning,” said Dave Rahm, Brinkmann Constructors project director.

Some of the Highlands Ranch fossils are on display in the Museum’s fossil preparation lab, located in the “Prehistoric Journey” exhibition on the third floor, where volunteers work to clean and stabilize fossils before they are added to the Museum’s collections for future research and possible displays.

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