12-Year-Old Stumbles on 69-Million-Year-Old Duck-Billed Dinosaur Fossil in Canada Badlands

October 21, 2020 Updated: October 21, 2020

Any adventurous little boy would be thrilled to find a real life dinosaur fossil. But when it’s your dream to become a paleontologist, finding one becomes that much more exciting.

That’s what happened to Nathan Hrushkin, a 12-year-old boy from Calgary, Canada. He and his father were hiking at a conservation site at Horseshoe Canyon in the Badlands of Alberta, when he spotted a partially-buried dinosaur fossil.

The fossil turned out to be a 69-million-year-old dinosaur bone, an incredible discovery for anyone, but especially for a 12-year-old boy like Nathan.

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Nathan Hrushkin and his dad, Dion, found the bones during a hike. (Courtesy of Nature Conservancy of Canada)

After his discovery, Nathan told CNN, “It’s pretty amazing to find something that’s like real, like an actual dinosaur discovery. It’s kind of been my dream for a while.”

The seventh-grader and his dad sent photos of the fossil to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Soon afterward, the museum identified it as the humerus bone of a young hadrosaur, or “duck-billed dinosaur.”

According to a news release from the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the hadrosaur lived 69 million years ago.

Nathan and his father reportedly had seen dinosaur bone fragments in the same area a year before. They decided to investigate the area further, and it didn’t take long before the young man spotted something “unmistakable.”

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The bone Nathan found came from a young hadrosaur. (Courtesy of Nature Conservancy of Canada)

Nathan’s dad, Dion Hrushkin, said, “He called down to me, he’s like, ‘Dad, you need to get up here,’ and as soon as he said that I could tell by the tone in his voice that he found something.”

It was just after lunch, and Nathan had climbed up the hill to explore.

“They looked like bones made of stone,” said Dion. “You could not mistake them for anything else.”

The NCC says that fossils are protected by Alberta law and that Nathan and his father did the right thing by snapping a photo and leaving their findings undisturbed.

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(Illustration – Reimar/Shutterstock)

In a statement, François Therrien, the Royal Tyrrell Museum’s curator of dinosaur paleontology, said, “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. Nathan and Dion’s find will help us fill this big gap in our knowledge of dinosaur evolution.”

Since the discovery, Nathan and his father have visited the dig site several times, and they’ve been able to watch paleontologists haul out several specimens of hadrosaur—a dream come true for the young aspiring scientist.

“It was pretty fun to be there and watch them do their things,” Nathan said.

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