When we think of a fossil dig, we often picture a rocky valley or pit far away from civilization. However, surprising fossil locations are uncovered all the time. It's not a dinosaur conspiracy - prehistoric life existed all around us, even under our shopping centers and subway systems.
Fossils found in surprising places can give regular people a chance to experience the excitement of discovering the remains of prehistoric animals and dinosaurs. It’s a great reason to keep your eyes peeled when exploring the great outdoors - or even when building a new fire station.
A shopping center in central New Jersey sits near a quarry that has become the center of increased attention from paleontologists. For years, excavation of the quarry has revealed a great number of marine fossils from the Cretaceous period. Largest among them are the remains of massive mosasaurs, but the fossils also include crocodiles, sharks, and brachiopods.
The area was once part of a shallow sea, and the surrounding earth appears to be from the end of the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs and many other species went extinct.
Most whales today are very docile and few hunt large animals. The same can’t be said for Livyatan, a massive and aggressive whale with large, sharp teeth. Livyatan was discovered in the middle of the vast Peruvian Pisco-Ica desert on the last day of a two-year archaeological search.
Scientists theorize Livyatan would have preyed on its kind; the species likely ate whales when they were much more common in the world’s oceans.
Labor crews in Thornton, Colorado, dug deep into the earth - deeper than most projects usually go. While preparing to build a new police and fire station, the construction workers found the fossilized remains of a dinosaur. A partial skull was initially thought to belong to a triceratops, but further investigation found it to be the cranium of the closely related torosaurus. It was the most complete example of a torosaurus ever found.
The find also included a tyrannosaurus rex tooth - perhaps the one that made a meal of “Tiny,” as the torosaurus was later nicknamed.
While taking a walk on Christmas Day, Argentinian farmer Jose Antonio Nievas found what he thought was a dinosaur egg sticking out of a riverbank. Instead, the pebbly object turned out to be the nearly complete shell of a glyptodont, a giant mammal that no longer exists.
The glyptodont was similar to the modern armadillo but much larger, possibly weighing more than two tons. This prehistoric animal also had protective layers of bone on its head and a tail to defend against predators.