Denver Museum of Nature & Science is having quite a busy season. After the discovery of a triceratops just outside of Denver and now receiving 6,000 new fossils, the institution made headlines in 2017. This new development is particularly special for the museum since it is the largest collection of fossils it has ever received and one of the largest of its kind— period.
“These fossils are spectacular!” said Joe Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at the Museum. “The donation is one of the largest collections of dinosaur bones from a single bone bed and includes skulls and other remains from dozens of individuals. It will allow us to study how dinosaurs changed as they grew and how they varied within a single population.”
The bones hail from eastern Wyoming and were received after several years of excavations on private land by the Hankla family of Danville, Kentucky. It includes skulls, vertebrae and limbs from duck-billed dinosaurs of varying ages all from one bone bed. The dinosaurs — a 40-foot herbivore called Edmontosaurus — were likely killed in a flash flood over 68 million years ago. This discovery is also exciting since fossils found in western North America are often sold on the commercial market to collectors around the world.
“I am proud and excited to see these fossils end up at a major research institution like the Denver Museum of Nature & Science,” said John Hankla, one of the donors. “Hopefully they can be used to inspire future scientists and can lead to significant scientific research on dinosaur growth and behavior.”
With all of the Museum’s recent additions (including others from Montana, North and South Dakota, New Mexico and Utah) the institution claims it is rapidly becoming one of the best Cretaceous dinosaur fossil collections in the country.
Like the other acquisitions, the fossils will need to go through careful preparation in the Museum’s labs for research before they are displayed for future programs and exhibits. But in the meantime, several blocks of bones and teeth will be on display at the Dinosaur Gulch play area at Cherry Creek Shopping Center on December 2 to January 15, 2018, through its traveling exhibition called Ultimate Dinosaurs.
All photos courtesy of Denver Museum of Nature & Science