Rare Dinosaur Fossil Unearthed In Canada During Pipeline Construction

By Philip Ross on October 3, 2013 2:50 PM EDT

dino tail
A rare, intact fossilized dinosaur tail, like the one pictured here in Mexico, was discovered in Canada on Tuesday. The fossil was surprisingly well preserved. (Photo: Reuters)

This guy will have something worth saying next time he's at the water cooler. While digging a trench for a pipeline in Spirit River, a town in northern Alberta, Canada, a construction worker unearthed a rare dinosaur fossil millions of years old. 

CNN reports that the worker, from The Tourmaline Oil Corp, a Canadian crude oil and natural gas company, struck the fossilized dinosaur tail with his backhoe on Tuesday. He apparently thought nothing of it at first, but then he noticed something strange when his backhoe picked up a few pieces of the fossil, which quickly crumbled. 

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Turns out, his shovel had struck a 32-foot-long fossilized dinosaur tail. That's a big reptile. 

The crew working on the pipeline immediately halted construction to investigate. They called around to find someone who could help them make sense of the fossil, and eventually piqued the interest of paleontologist Matthew Vavrek. He was asked to come inspect the dinosaur tail. 

"The last time I've seen something like that was in a museum," Vavrek told CNN. "I've never found something like this before."

Experts believe the rest of the massive dino is buried in the rock where the construction worker found the tail. According to CBC News, more paleontologists arrived Wednesday from the Tyrell Museum and National Geographic, and they plan to cart the fossil off for cleaning and analysis. They'll use small hammers to chip away at the rock and debris surrounding the fossil so they can categorize it. 

It's not evident at this point exactly what kind of dinosaur the fossil belonged to, or how old it is, but chances are something that big hasn't been around for a really, really long time. 

Finding a fossil this well-preserved is very rare, but not unheard of. In July, anthropologists in Mexico stumbled upon dinosaur tail of their own. The remains of a duck-billed dinosaur called a hadrosaur were uncovered from the desert along the U.S. border with Texas. It is thought to be about 72 million years old and measured 16 feet in length. It took a team of excavators 20 days to completely remove it from the earth. 

Read more from iScience Times: 

Alaska Dinosaur Tracks: Thousands Of Footprint Fossils Found Along The Yukon River

Model Dinosaur In Wind Tunnel Suggests Microraptor Feathers Were For Mating, Not Flying [VIDEO]

Dinosaur Tail In Mexico Desert Is A Staggering 16-Feet In Length, May Belong To Duck-Billed Hadrosaur [PHOTOS]

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