It’s not completely unheard-of to find a dinosaur bone out in the Alberta badlands where wind and water have worn away the earth to uncover the fragments of a time long past.
But discovering 70-million-year-old bones from a species similar to Tyrannosaurus rex 30 metres under one of Edmonton’s toniest neighbourhoods — that tends to raise eyebrows.
Earlier this month, construction workers Ryley Paul and Aaron Krywiak were digging a sewer tunnel in Quesnell Heights, an area along the North Saskatchewan River Valley where many homes have front gates and lawns that look like golf greens.
They started noticing some strange rocks as they worked. One was split in the middle with crystals inside. At first they figured they might have struck it rich and found diamonds.
Then a few days later they found what was obviously a pointy, serrated, 10-centimetre tooth. That’s when they knew they were on to something quite a bit less lucrative, but more interesting.
“It was pretty distinguishable that it was a dinosaur tooth,” Paul recalled yesterday as the City of Edmonton showed off his find.
Late last week, they turned to the experts at the University of Alberta and the Royal Tyrrell Museum based in Drumheller.
It has since been determined the bones are likely those of an Albertosaurus, a smaller cousin of the carnivorous T.-Rex, and an Edmontosaurus, a plant-eating, duck-billed dinosaur that was probably its prey.
It’s proof that dinosaur bones are everywhere, said Michael Caldwell, chair of the Biological Sciences Department at U of A.
“We generally do most of our fossil collecting in badlands and around the margins of rivers where water has cut through the sentiment,” he said.
Construction on the tunnel will continue to move forward. Researchers will work with crews to examine any dirt that is removed. They found more bones over the weekend.
Krywiak and Paul are left with a story they will long remember.
“It’s pretty cool,” Krywiak said. “I never thought I’d have a dinosaur bone in my hand like that. Just something you don’t get to experience every day.”