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California college student digs up 65 million-year-old Triceratops skull

The Triceratops is named Alice.
Credit: University of California- Merced

It was what any student on a paleontology dig would hope to find: A piece of prehistoric history.

Harris Duran, a biology student at the University of California-Merced, dug up part of a 65 million-year-old Triceratops skull in North Dakota’s badlands, according to a press release from the school.

This area is a treasure trove for fossil finds. It’s part of the Hell Creek Formation that spreads over Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

According to Fossil Museums’ website, the area is rich in fossil finds because of the climate of the area about 65-80 million years ago.

Duran said because of the area’s history, he headed off to do a two-week dig in the area with Michael Kjelland, an experienced excavator and professor at Mayville State University in North Dakota.

The two met at a conference and then discovered they had a common passion for dinosaurs. Duran named the unearthed Triceratops Alice.

“I can’t quite express my excitement in that moment when we uncovered the skull,” Duran said. “I’ve been obsessed with dinosaurs since I was a kid, so it was a pretty big deal.”

While the general area of Alice's discovery was released, the Duran and Kjelland said they won't release the exact spot because there have been known bone thieves.