Weld County Triceratops skull arrives at Denver Museum of Nature & Science

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Dr. Joe Sertich, Curator of Dinosaurs for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, works on the plaster cast of Pops. Jerri Mapelli Gustafson and Terri Mapelli DeMoney (daughters of Roland “Sonny” Mapelli) and their families were in attendance the day Pops was transported to the museum. Credit: Weld County

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WELD COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Denver Museum of Nature & Science received a Weld County Triceratops skull on Friday.

The fossil, known in the community as ‘Pops,’ is the county’s official fossil. The skull was found by a landowner Roland “Sonny” Mapelli in 1982 near Briggsdale, county officials said.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science will study and repair the complete Triceratops skull, the first to be found in Colorado, for the next nine to twelve months.

“This is really exciting for the residents of the county,” said Commissioner Chairman Mike Freeman. “Many people aren’t aware this piece of history was discovered right here in Weld County. Now with the help of the museum, we’ll be able to learn more about this impressive fossil.”

Dr. Joe Sertich, the Denver Museum of Nature Science’s Curator of Dinosaurs, contacted the county in 2018, asking for the opportunity to study, clean and repair the fossil.

The fossil was donated to the county under the condition that it be on display for people to enjoy.

A collaboration of county, museum and state agencies enabled the fossil study project. Pops will be returned after the work is complete.

“The museum has been great to work with,” said Freeman. “And the community is starting to get excited about the project and the updates.”

The Pops the Triceratops project can be followed on the county website and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (search for @popsthetriceratops).

The fossil was on display at the Weld County Centennial Building, from 1986 to 2011, and the Weld County Administration Building, from 2011 to October 2020.

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