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Fossils found at Highlands Ranch construction site are from a triceratops

A construction crew first came across the fossils in May.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Researchers have determined that the fossils uncovered at a Highlands Ranch construction site in May came from a triceratops.

The fossils were discovered by construction workers near Wind Crest, a continuing care retirement community.

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The Denver Museum of Nature and Science said it's collected 40 elements of the skeleton so far. That is about a quarter of the adult dinosaur.

About 200 bones would make a full skeleton.

"For the Denver area it's super exciting," said Natalie Toth, Cheif Fossil Preparer at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. "I wouldn't say it's unusual to find dinosaur bones in the Denver area just because the age of the rock we have here is perfect for finding a dinosaur like a triceratops. We do field work across the Rocky Mountain region where we find these types of dinosaurs."

The dig is anywhere from 66 to 68 million years old, meaning the bones are a bit spread out, Toth said.

A limb bone and several ribs were the first bones discovered from what they were calling a "horned dinosaur". Toth's team found part of a skull and a scapula in early June. On Friday, they determined they had collected enough to officially determine the dinosaur was a triceratops. 

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Fossil finds are nothing new in Colorado. A rare fish fossil was discovered in southeastern Colorado -- one of only three of its kind in the world. The world’s first Stegosaurus fossil was found in Morrison, and one of the most complete Torosaurus skeletons was found in Thornton.

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