Pictured here is the first bone discovered at the Nodwell property.
Photo by NCC

Pictured here is the first bone discovered at the Nodwell property. Photo by NCC

Twelve-year old boy finds dinosaur fossil during summer trek in Alberta’s Badlands

The find indeed marks an exciting chapter in Nathan Hrushkin’s growing fascination with palaeontology

  • Oct. 15, 2020 10:30 a.m.

A 12-year-old aspiring palaeontologist made quite the historic find during a trek through the Alberta Badlands this past summer.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is confirming the discovery of a dinosaur skeleton on its Nodwell property at Horseshoe Canyon, near Drumheller. Nathan Hrushkin and his father, Dion, discovered the partially exposed bones while hiking on the conservation site.

The area is located in an isolated pocket of Badlands amidst the Alberta prairies.

The geological record of the property, made visible through erosion, represents a time interval between 71 and 68 million years ago, noted a release.

In July, Nathan and Dion sent photos of their find to the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which identified that the bones belonged to a young hadrosaur, commonly known as a duck-billed dinosaur.

The find indeed marks an exciting chapter in Nathan’s growing fascination with palaeontology.

“I’ve been wanting to be a palaeontologist for six or seven years,” explained Nathan.

“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. “My dad and I have been visiting this property for a couple of years, hoping to find a dinosaur fossil, and we’ve seen lots of little bone fragments. This year I was exploring higher up the canyon and found about four bones,” he said.

“We sent pictures to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and François, the palaeontologist who replied, was able to identify one of the bones as a humerus from the photos so we knew we’d found something this time.”

Because fossil reports from the Horseshoe Canyon area are rare, the Royal Tyrrell Museum sent a team to the conservation site. There was plenty more to discover.

Since Nathan’s find, paleontologists have also uncovered between 30 and 50 bones in the canyon’s wall.

All of the bones collected belong to a single specimen, a juvenile hadrosaur approximately three or four years old.

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is excited to be a part of this significant find,” said Bryanne Aylward, senior director of conservation with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

“Connecting people with nature, in all its forms, is important to us, and we’re happy Nathan was able to test out his skills as a budding paleontologist on our conservation site.

“This find is a reminder that conservation is not just about protecting Canada’s landscapes for the present or the future, but also about preserving the past.”

While hadrosaurs are the most common fossils found in Alberta’s Badlands, this specimen is noteworthy because few juvenile skeletons have been recovered and also because of its location in the strata, or the rock formation.

The rock layer where this hadrosaur was found preserves few fossils, noted the release.

This hadrosaur is also highly significant because it will contribute to filling the knowledge gaps about dinosaurs from that time interval.

Numerous significant fossil discoveries are made each year by the public, and this young hadrosaur is a great example.

The Hrushkins are also a perfect example of what to do when someone discovers fossils: take photos of the bones, record their location using a GPS or Google Earth, report the find to the Royal Tyrrell Museum and, most importantly, leave the fossils undisturbed in the ground.

The latter is the most important step, as fossils are protected by law and much information is lost when they are removed from their location.

“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,” said François Therrien, curator of Dinosaur Palaeoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.

”Nathan and Dion’s find will help us fill this big gap in our knowledge of dinosaur evolution.”

The Nodwell property is named after Leila Nodwell, who passed away in April of 2000.

In tribute to Leila’s memory, the Nodwell family purchased the 320 acres that encompass the western half of the canyon, and subsequently sold the land to NCC.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Francois Therrien, Curator of Dinosaur Palaeoecology at the Nodwell property. Photo by NCC

Just Posted

Ember
Stettler’s own Ember Graphics takes Board of Trade 2020 Business Service Award

The 2020 Business and Citizenship Awards Gala was held Oct. 22nd

lights
Mark your calendars for the annual ‘Festival of Lights’ holiday events

Annual celebration raises funds in support of patient care at the Stettler Hospital

Nate Horner
Nate Horner stops by Castor’s Paintearth Lodge on Oct. 19th

Another hot topic during the discussion was the visitor restrictions put in place to protect the residents

Stettler’s Dakota Derr wins ‘Youth Citizen of the Year’

Derr has long demonstrated a passion for volunteering in the community

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Cases in Ponoka (East Ponoka County) as of Oct. 27. (alberta.ca)
Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 at three Ponoka businesses

Town ‘strongly encouraging’ residents to wear non-medical masks in public

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Alberta’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. The Alberta government is hoping to get more Albertans employed by moving to limit the number and type of temporary foreign workers it allows into the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta to limit temporary foreign worker program to save jobs for Albertans

Temporary foreign workers already in the province won’t be affected

(Emily Jaycox/Bashaw Star)
Wreath laying ceremony held in Manfred, Alta.

Ceremony marks 64th anniversary of Hungarian revolution, honours settlers

Royal Alexandra Hospital front-line workers walk a picket line after walking off the job in a wildcat strike in Edmonton, on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta labour board orders health-care staff who walked off the job to go back to work

Finance Minister Travis Toews said in a news release that he was pleased with the labour board’s decision

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join AUPE walk outs across the province Monday Oct. 26, 2020. Shaela Dansereau/ The Pipestone Flyer.
City of Wetaskiwin health-care workers strike in protest of province-wide cuts

Wetaskiwin Hospital staff join other front line hospital workers across the province in walk-outs.

Most Read