City of Thornton News Release Logo For Immediate Release:   8/29/2017
Contact: Communications Content Supervisor
Lisa Wilson, 303-538-7282
DMNS Communications and Media Relations Manager Maura O'Neal

Rare dinosaur fossil uncovered in Thornton
"This dinosaur has been laying here for at least 66-million years."

THORNTON, CO… Scientists from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) are working at the site of a fossil discovery in Thornton. On Friday, August 25, construction crews working on Thornton’s new Public Safety Facility at 132nd Avenue and Quebec Street uncovered the fossil, and scientists at DMNS were on-site on Monday, August 28, to confirm it is a fossil. “My heart was racing,” says DMNS Curator of Dinosaurs Joe Sertich. “I realized it was a pretty important dinosaur find.”

After initially clearing away some of the dirt at the site, Sertich says it appears to be a triceratops skeleton and skull. “This is probably one of only three skulls of triceratops found along the Front Range area,” says Sertich. According to Sertich, most fossil finds along the Front Range are from the Ice Age, just 10 to 12-thousand years old, but this fossil is much older, and much rarer. “This dinosaur has been laying here for at least 66-million years,” says Sertich. “I’m over the moon right now about this dinosaur fossil.”

Construction crews have stopped work in the area of the fossil. The DMNS scientists will stabilize the area, carefully expose the fossil, look for any other bones that remain uncovered, and safely extract them. “A lot of times these will be plowed up and they won’t be recognized,” says Sertich. “We’re really lucky in this case that it was recognized as fossils and we got the call.” Scientists hope to eventually house the fossil at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The city of Thornton is providing security at the fossil site to ensure the items make it safely to its new home. The fossil site is not visible from the street, and because this is an active construction site, only museum personnel, city of Thornton crews and construction personnel are permitted on the site. Thornton is making the following media resources available for covering the story: video of site (broadcast quality), video interviews, still photos. These resources can be found at Again, no access to the construction site will be permitted for safety reasons. Interviews may be facilitated upon request. For more information go to

DMNS Curator of Dinosaurs Joe Sertich (left) works carefully to uncover a triceratops skull.
Photo courtesy: The city of Thornton

rare dinosaur found in Thornton