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Researchers find 7-foot-long, 3,000-pound triceratops skull in South Dakota

The team named it "Shady" after nearby town Shadehill.
Credit: Westminster College

SOUTH DAKOTA, USA — Out in the Badlands of South Dakota, a group of undergraduate researchers from Westminster College discovered the skull of a 7-foot-long triceratops and brought it back to their campus.

Because of the COIVD-19 pandemic, the annual dig, which is offered as course credit at the college, was not offered. But that didn't stop students from signing up for the popular dig.

Three current students and four alumni joined David Schmidt, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geology and Environmental Science for his seventh Westminster fossil expedition at the Grand River National Grassland.  

While out on site, the group was only expecting to find fragments of dinosaur bones as well as the occasional complete bone. But a rancher discovered something sticking out of the ground back in the summer of 2019. The rancher contacted the National Forrest Service, who got in touch with Schmidt to check out findings.

Once they dug up the 3,000-pound skull, the team named it "Shady" after nearby town Shadehill. Shady is now back at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, where it is being stored in a safe location until funds can be raised for a proper display.

The other bones that were left behind in South Dakota will be dug up next summer. 

The group of eight was able to follow coronavirus safety guidelines by camping outside over the two-month dig. 

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