By Rick Sallinger

THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) – Construction workers have discovered a dinosaur in the ground in Thornton. On Friday a construction crew working on Thornton’s new police station stumbled on a patch of earth that seemed suspicious and they called in scientific experts, who have since confirmed that they found a triceratops.

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(credit: City of Thornton)

“They thought it was a bone, called out experts from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and they say most likely dinosaur bones, pretty certain,” said Todd Barnes with the City of Thornton.

“I got a call to check it out,” said Dr. Joseph Sertich, curator of dinosaurs at DMNS. “As soon as I got on site I realized it was a pretty important dinosaur find.”

Thornton’s new public safety facility where the construction project is going on is located at 132nd Avenue and Quebec Street.

Joseph Sertich studies the discovery. (credit: City of Thornton)

A CBS4 crew visited the site on Tuesday and CBS4’s Rick Sallinger reports parts of the skeleton and parts of the skull of the triceratops were found in the ground.

(credit: City of Thornton)

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DMNS experts says the fossil could be as much as 66 million years old.

A generic image of a triceratops (credit: Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

“This construction crew just hit the right spot at the right time,” Sertich said.

This is only the third triceratops that has been found along Colorado’s Front Range.

“It’s an iconic, popular dinosaur. Most kids know it — with big horns over its eyes, a little nose horn and a shield on the back of its head,” he said.

The City of Thornton is excited about the discovery, according to Barnes.

“This is the kind of find that makes everybody stop and take notice and get serious about preservation efforts,” he said.

The city is also reconsidering security around the area. The exact build site is not visible from the street, and there is some concern about fossil poachers.

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CBS4’s Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.