Funk was in a daze as the workers rushed past him in their squelching boots. They powered through the oily sand, and Funk heard them stop and then gasp.
He had to pinch himself to ensure his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him. The sight before him was unbelieving; no one would have believed him if they hadn’t seen it for themselves. His mind raced with questions.
A Construction Worker
Shawn Funk was a miner with 12 years of experience as a construction worker and heavy-machine operator. He had seen a lot in his time uncovering buried objects.
Funk had seen many things throughout his experience and thought he had seen all there was to see. But he had no idea what was about to come.
A Love For His Job
Funk loved spending his time outdoors and in the elements, which made him the perfect fit for his job. He was prepared for another day of digging in the earth in Millennium Mine in Alberta, Canada, and he happily climbed into the backhoe.
He was fascinated with anomalies, which only added to his love for his job. He hoped to find something unique one day, but he had no idea how close he was to that dream becoming a reality.
Preserved In Rock
The hours he spent working were the same as any other day. He continuously dug up rocks from the earth and lifted them high up into the air before relocating them.
As he worked his way through the sand, tar, and oil, he thought about how time had been preserved in these rocks. His mind ran away, imagining what would happen if he unearthed something special.
A Wild Imagination
His mind brought up a memory of a news segment about a miner who had found something special. He had dug through dirt and stone to find an ancient egg. Shawn soon snapped out of it and laughed at his wild imagination.
His mind cleared, and he continued working and operated the machine to start digging again. But that’s when he heard the loud crack of the metal hitting something hard.
Time To Investigate
The excavator was still holding onto chunks of earth, so he released those to the ground before he went to investigate. The rocks were unlike any he had seen before, and he decided to move on to the back of his truck to examine them later.
He had made a big hole while excavating and returned to the site. What lay before him sent his mind and heart racing.
In Need Of Assistance
There was no one nearby to assist him; the closest man to him was someone operating an excavator far off in the distance. Shawn needed to act quickly and ran to his truck to call for officials and backup.
The crack was widening, and he decided not to wait any longer. He ran for his shovel and used the adrenaline rush to help dig. However, his valiant efforts were not enough.
A Gut Instinct
Funk worked as fast as he could, trying to keep ahead of the loose earth. He couldn’t let the loose ground collapse before he unearthed the anomaly. But he needed to work fast before the loose earth buried him and his discovery.
He felt like he had an out-of-body experience, his gut telling him what to do instead of his mind. He would do anything to protect his finding. He continued his efforts on the large boulder until he heard a noise.
He watched as the backup brought a large crane and pillars to the site. He helped them dig beneath the rock, so wooden planks could be placed there to keep the rock still.
The crane lifted the rock into the air, and Shawn held his breath. His eyes were locked on his discovery, still trying to wrap his head around the fact that he had found something special.
Into The Air
Funk felt the tension leave his body once the rock was lifted from the crumbling surface. But there was a lot more to be done.
The crane had just lowered the rock to the ground again when an ear-splitting sound rang out through the air. Funk’s eyes widened at the rock, which was now split in half. He had to tell himself it was real.
What Is It?
A team from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology rushed to the scene. Funk watched as their eyes popped in shock and amazement as they realized what they were called for.
Funk explained everything, and they spent hours carefully digging through the shattered bits of rock, piecing together something you could only see to believe. What was it?
Incredibly, Funk discovered a real-life fossilized dinosaur that had been petrified from its snout to its hips. This meant it was miraculously well preserved since its death 112 million years ago.
Not only did it have teeth and bones, but also its skin and remnants of its intestines – a phenomenon as rare as winning the lottery. How?
How Did It Get There?
Scientists speculate that the unlucky dinosaur died and ended up being swept into the river by a big flood. It was kept afloat by gases in its body which washed its belly-up carcass far out to sea.
After a week or so, the carcass burst and sank back into the ocean floor. Minerals seeped into the skin and armor and supported its back, immortalizing its form as tonnes of rock piled on top of it.
Researchers from the museum and all over the world worked tirelessly for 6 years to test, preserve, and prepare this dinosaur’s remains while piecing together his unbelievable story.
Scientists concluded that this dinosaur was a four-legged herbivore covered in armor-plated skin and spikes with a long tail. It was a brand new discovery of species called a Nodosaur.
In its petrified state, the Nodosaur weighed about 2,500 pounds – which gives scientists a reasonable idea of how much it weighed when it was alive.
They estimate that the Nodosaur weighed in at around 3,000 pounds! This means that the Nodosaur would have been a fairly solitary creature when it roamed the land 100 million years ago.
The miracle of the Nodosaur’s perfectly preserved remains still baffles scientists – especially after its rough and long journey to its final resting place.
Exactly how this preservation occurred was still a mystery to experts. All they were able to determine was that it had to have happened quickly because the Nodosaur had lain undisturbed for millions of years after it had been covered by oil.
A Unique Glimpse Inside
Due to the Nodosaur’s pristine condition, scientists were able to use modern X-ray scans to see what was inside the dinosaur’s tough exoskeleton.
They were able to see its bone structure and even inside the inner chambers of the beast’s stomach – that’s just how well-preserved this find was. Nobody could believe it – least of all the man who found it.
Not A Bad Day’s Work
The Nodosaur is now on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, and scientists are still studying its remains as they continue to learn more about the prehistoric era of dinosaurs.
As for miner Sean Funk, he gets to say that he played the leading role in one of the most significant dinosaur discoveries in the world at work. And scientists were still not done with this find.