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It was the discovery he'd always dreamed of making.
In June, 23-year-old University of California Merced student Harrison Duran was working at a dig site in the North Dakota Badlands when, out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw a piece of petrified wood. He was there with Michael Kjelland, an excavator and professor at Mayville State University, and together they started digging. What Duran initially thought was a piece of wood turned out to be a 65-million-year-old dinosaur fossil.
Duran discovered the partial skull of a triceratops, which has been named Alice after the woman who owned the land where it was found. After spending about a week carefully removing the skull from the ground, they used a special glue to solidify the mineralized bones, the Los Angeles Times reports. From there, the fossil was covered in foil and plaster and wrapped in a foam mattress for protection.
Duran grew up going to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and always imagined what it would be like to find a fossil. "It's almost like dinosaurs have a mythos about them," he told the Times. "They're seen as mythological beasts, so it's amazing to actually discover one, to remember that they were living, breathing animals at one point."