Dino Lab Victoria Triceratops
(Dr. Erich Fitzgerald from Melbourne Museum inspects a fossil at Dino Lab, Inc./courtesy Museums Victoria)

The world will get a new up-close look at one of the more famous dinosaurs thanks in part to a team in Victoria.

Dino Lab Inc., a fossil restoration lab based in B.C.’s capital city, has been prepping the world’s most complete triceratops skeleton for display in the Melbourne Museum.

“We’ve been working on this particular triceratops for over three years,” Kathryn Abbott, Dino Lab Inc. Fossil Preparator and 3D Scanning/Printing Technician, said in an interview with Victoria Buzz.

“Cleaning and preparing and mounting the specimen for display.”

Dino Lab Inc. has been performing this kind of work in Victoria for over a decade. They opened their lab for public tours and education a little over a year ago.

More recently, however, they’ve been working on restoring this triceratops.

The skeleton was discovered in 2014 on private property in Montana, in the Hell Creek Formation. The area is a prime location for fossils from the Late Cretaceous period, including triceratops.

But in this case, Abbott says the find is incredibly unique.

“It is the most complete triceratops that has ever been discovered,” she said. “It has 87 per cent of its skeleton.”

The restoration expert says that usually dinosaur bones are broken into hundreds of tiny pieces and need to be glued back together. In some cases, they are so brittle and fragile that they turn to powder.

That’s not the case with this Triceratops.

“This dinosaur has been an absolute pleasure to work on because it’s so well preserved,” said Abbott.

“It’s as if the dinosaur was standing, laid down, took a nap, died, was covered up, and stayed perfectly articulated in that position for 67 million years.”

She says that the reason the skeleton was so well-preserved is that it was miraculously well-encased in matrix and sandstone. Crucially, the sandstone also didn’t compress or damage the bones, and a layer of soft sediment simply washed over the specimen.

After the discovery, the bones were shipped to Victoria, where Dino Lab Inc. has been readying them for display.

The Melbourne Museum announced their acquisition of the skeleton on Wednesday. The museum says they expect to display the fossil in 2021.

Abbott says she’ll be one of the ones waiting in line for the unveiling.

“It’s gonna be an absolute pleasure and delight to anyone who sees it,” she said.

“This dinosaur is going to change how people look at triceratops. I’m gonna have to take a trip to Melbourne to see it all in its glory when it’s finally up.”

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