For the first time ever, Victorians can see and touch a fully intact triceratops skull fossil.
On Tuesday, Dino Lab Inc., the city’s first interactive fossil preparation lab, received their new primary exhibit and project: a triceratops, named ‘Dozer’ short for ‘Bulldozer’, with skin impressions that show a bite mark from another dinosaur.
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the bite mark comes with a tooth from the other dinosaur embedded in the triceratops’ neck.
“Skin impressions are very rare and particularly finding a tooth embedded in the skin is extremely rare. It’s only been seen in a couple of cases in the entire world,” says Dino Lab spokesperson Kathryn Abbott.
While not much is known about Dozer yet, the fossil is 66 million years old and was sent to Victoria from Montana.
Patrons who visit Dino Lab will be able to not only witness lab technicians excavate the fossils from its rock, but also get their picture taken while sitting inside a plaster jacket right next to the skull, feel the skin impressions, and touch the fossil itself.
“These are a piece of our natural history and there’s no point in people not getting to have a hands on experience with our natural history,” says Abbott.
“It’s one thing going into a museum and another to actually hold the fossil in your hands and getting to feel what a 150 million year old bone feels like. It’s a life changing experience.”
Dino Lab is a fossil preparation lab and museum that first opened to the public 5 months ago. Lab technicians receive and restore dinosaur bones before sending them to museums and private galleries.
Owners Carly Burbank and Terry Ciotka operated the lab for five years in Victoria before opening it to the public after many people expressed interest in seeing the fossils firsthand. Ciotka has been working in the fossil industry for 25 years.
According to him, the triceratops skull will likely take a year or longer to prepare, and its final destination is hitherto unknown.
Well preserved triceratops’ fossils are few and far between, says Abbott, which makes it difficult for lab technicians to discern whether Dozer was a male or female, or how old they were when they died.
However the skull will soon be examined by paleontologists Dr. Philip J. Currie and Dr. Heinrich Mallison.
“The more we uncover, the more we’ll know and learn, and this’ll be a very important triceratops to science, we believe,” says Abbott.
Visits to Dino Lab must be scheduled ahead of time through their online portal at www.dinolabinc.ca/pages/schedule-your-visit/.