A construction crew working on an oil pipeline in Alberta, Canada, this week unearthed the fossilized remains of a dinosaur's tail.
The section of tail, measuring up to 100 feet long, was discovered by a backhoe operator working for the Tourmaline Oil Corp., according to Canadian news site CBC. Initially, the operator thought he had merely chipped off some rock. But when he spotted the distinctive vertebrae, he stopped work and called in the experts.
"Brian Brake, executive director of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, told the Edmonton Journal that the discovery is one of the "most complete finds in this part of the world in a long time." Preliminary assessments from the museum's paleontologists suggest the fossil belongs to some species of hadrosaur, a family of herbivores with duck bills that lived during the Upper Cretaceous Period.
"The last time I've seen something like that was in a museum," paleontologist Matthew Vavrek told CNN. "I've never found something like this before." Vavrek also said that the backhoe could have easily pulverized the entire find had the operator not been more attentive; the piece he initially broke off fell apart.
The paleontologists, along with the Tourmaline Oil Corp, are now working to extract the find along with any other bones they discover nearby — a process that could take weeks. They're hoping to remove all the bones before the first winter frost, which could freeze them into the ground."
Experts said it could take years to identify what type of dinosaur the tail belonged to.
According to the National Post, Alberta is a particularly fossil-rich area. Last August, a team of paleontologists spent 12 days unearthing a 4,460-pound triceratops fossil outside Drumheller, Alberta. The 65-million-year-old specimen had been exposed by erosion.