For most people, their daily work routine is pretty predictable. You might change where you go for lunch or have an unexpected meeting. However, in most types of work, your day is fairly normal and doesn’t have any surprises.
For one Canadian heavy-machine operator, his days were fairly routine. However, one such ‘ordinary’ day took a surprising twist when he hit a strange object with his machine. He knew that something was out of the ordinary so he decided to call for help.
What they discovered would change history as we know it.
To Shawn Funk it had started out as any other Monday. Shawn worked for Suncor energy company and on this day he was manning the backhoe in the Millennium Mine. The mine was located about 17 miles north of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada.
Suncor was using the mine to extract crude oil from deep into the mine. Shawn was busy using the backhoe to dig through layers of sand. This sand used to be rich in marine animals and plants from when the area was an ocean.
Of course, it hadn’t been an ocean in hundreds of millions of years.
The plants and animals that used to live there had died and eventually settled at the bottom of the ocean. Over time, heat and pressure helped to turn the organic matter and organisms into hydrocarbons.
Hydrocarbons are best known as crude oil.
This process meant that when he was working, Shawn seldom came across anything but sand and oil. After taking a lunch break, Shawn went back to work, only to find that something was different. His backhoe sounded different.
That’s when he made the discovery.
Shawn had been doing this job for 12 years already during which time he had never found anything more unusual than a petrified tree stump. That’s why he could tell something was different from the sound of the machine.
He didn’t know what it was but it was definitely harder than sand or rocks found there.
Taking A Look
Shawn quickly stopped the machine and dumped out the contents of the excavator. The looked through the material and noticed some unusual, light-brown, lumps among the rest of the materials. Shawm turned the lumps over to get a better look.
That’s when he noticed the gray disks.
In that moment, Shawn knew he needed to stop digging and call someone immediately. Suncor executives called Royal Tyrrell Museum, who quickly realized that Shawn stumbled upon something very rare. The museum flew out two technicians to the site.
The team was able to locate the large mass that these unusual chunks came from, and from there, Suncor excavators and museum technicians spent 12 hours chipping away at the estimated 15,000-pound rock mass.
They were finally able to free the rock accretion and lift it from the earth. As they lowered it down to level ground, the 7.5 ton mass fell to the ground and shattered revealing a paleontologist’s paradise…
They’d found the remains of a prehistoric organism! The museum technicians inspected the mystery creature’s shattered remains and put them back together like a puzzle.
When they finished a rough re-assemblage of the creature it highly resembled a realistic, nine-foot tall dinosaur! But the truly remarkable thing about this discovery was that they weren’t looking at a fossil of bones. In fact, there were no bones visible at all: they were seeing bony scutes and plates — the dinosaur was entirely petrified.
Thousands of questions flooded the minds of the museum technicians. How was this dinosaur fossilized so well that it was basically mummified? They were dying to figure out the story of this rare find.
The pieces of the petrified dinosaur were taken back to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology for tests and research, where it was discovered the creature lived about 110 million years ago! The dinosaur was very clearly an armored plant-eater, similar to those found in western Canada.