12-Year-Old Paleontologist Hits Big – GNSOTD Mon, Oct. 19th 2020

A 12-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a paleontologist got a kickstart on his career goals this summer.

Nathan Hrushkin and his dad Dion enjoy hiking on a conservation area in Canada’s Horseshoe Canyon, in Alberta, it’s a place they have been many times before. The reason they explore there is that it is a location known to have dinosaur bones, and Nathan has had this dream of finding a fossil for 6 or 7 years, at least half his life.

Then in July he stumbled upon the bones of a 69-million-year-old dinosaur. Previously, he says that he and his dad only ever found fragments. But this discovery of partially exposed bones, was more than a fragment, and after sending photos to the Royal Tyrrell Museum for confirmation, Nathan soon learned that he’d come across the bones of a young hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur.

It took a bit of work to confirm Nathan’s finding, because fossil reports from Horseshoe Canyon are rare, the museum sent a team out to the site. Once they arrived to Nathan’s find however, The Nature Conservancy of Canada said they found an additional 30 to 50 bones in the walls of the canyon.

Experts determined that the bones — four limbs, hips, shoulders and a partial skull — all belong to the same creature, a hadrosaur estimated to be about 3 or 4 years old. Though the conservancy said that hadrosaurs are the most common fossils found in the area, Nathan’s discovery is special because of the dino’s age and because it was found in a rock formation. “This young hadrosaur is a very important discovery because it comes from a time interval for which we know very little about what kind of dinosaurs or animals lived in Alberta,” François Therrien, curator of dinosaur paleoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, said in a statement. “Nathan and Dion’s find will help us fill this big gap in our knowledge of dinosaur evolution.”

There are many species of hadrosaur, so experts will pay special attention to the partial skull that was found in order to narrow it down. For Nathan, the find summed up just about everything he loves about the topic. “I am fascinated about how bones from creatures that lived tens of millions of years ago become these fossil rocks, which are just sitting on the ground waiting to be found,” he said.

You can find more about Nathan and his discovery in your Good News Story of the Day here. There are some people who are called to a task or a career. For Nathan, this could be his calling. We wish him well.

Story and Image from People.

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