Your average work routine is pretty predictable when you get up each morning. You might go out to different lunch spot or have a meeting that you forgot about, but — in quite a few lines of work — there usually aren’t too many surprises in any given day.

That was not the case for one Canadian heavy-machine operator. What started out as an ordinary day, took a wild turn when his machine hit something odd. Knowing that something wasn’t right, he called in backup — and what they unearthed was a historical game-changer never seen before.

It was any old Monday for Shawn Funk, who was working for the energy company Suncor. He was manning the backhoe in Millennium Mine, located about 17 miles north of Fort McMurrary in Alberta, Canada.

Suncor Energy / YouTube

Suncor was tasked with mining crude oil deep within the mine. Shawn used his machine to excavate through layers of sand that was once rich with marine plants and animals from hundreds of millions of years ago.

Since that distant time, the plants and animals have died and settled to the bottom of the previously existing ocean. Add a little heat and pressure overtime, and the once living organisms turned into hydrocarbons. Crude oil.

Ecocide Alert

Due to the nature of this biological process, Shawn rarely ran into anything other than sand and oil on the job. Which was why, when Shawn returned to work after taking a lunch break, he found it odd the backhoe was humming a different tune.

Suncor Energy / YouTube

In his 12 years of work, he had only ever ran into petrified tree stumps, so he could tell by the very different sound that his machine was striking something different. It was something much harder than both the sand and native rock in the area.

North Dakota Studies

Immediately pulling his backhoe up from the earth, Shawn dumped the contents of the excavator out in front of him. Odd looking light-brown colored lumps spilled out onto the ground. He flipped some pieces over and noticed rows of gray disks…

Suncor Energy / YouTube

In that moment, Shawn knew he needed to stop digging and call someone immediately. Suncor executives called Royal Tyrrell Museum, who quickly realized that Shawn stumbled upon something very rare. The museum flew out two technicians to the site.

Suncor Energy / YouTube
The team was able to locate the large mass that these unusual chunks came from, and from there, Suncor excavators and museum technicians spent 12 hours chipping away at the estimated 15,000-pound rock mass.

Suncor Energy / YouTube
They were finally able to free the rock accretion and lift it from the earth. As they lowered it down to level ground, the 7.5 ton mass fell to the ground and shattered revealing a paleontologist’s paradise…

Suncor Energy / YouTube
They’d found the remains of a prehistoric organism! The museum technicians inspected the mystery creature’s shattered remains and put them back together like a puzzle.

Suncor Energy
When they finished a rough re-assemblage of the creature it highly resembled a realistic, nine-foot tall dinosaur! But the truly remarkable thing about this discovery was that they weren’t looking at a fossil of bones. In fact, there were no bones visible at all: they were seeing bony scutes and plates — the dinosaur was entirely petrified.

National Geographic

Thousands of questions flooded the minds of the museum technicians. How was this dinosaur fossilized so well that it was basically mummified? They were dying to figure out the story of this rare find.

Suncor Energy

The pieces of the petrified dinosaur were taken back to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology for tests and research, where it was discovered the creature lived about 110 million years ago! The dinosaur was very clearly an armored plant-eater, similar to those found in western Canada.

National Geographic

Scientists placed the creature in the genus Ankylosaurus. It’s believed that it died in western Canada and got transported by a massive flood where it ended up at the bottom of a pre-historic ocean.

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A full reconstruction of the herbivore revealed it was four-legged, armor-plated dinosaur covered in spikes with a long tail most-likely covered in spikes to fend off predators — a brand new species called a called Nodosaur!

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In its petrified state, the Nodosaur weighs about 2,500 pounds, and it’s believed that when alive, it weighed about 3,000 pounds. The Nodosaur would have been a fairly solitary creature 100 millions years ago.

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

It’s miraculous the behemoth’s body remained so intact after such a rough and long distance journey. As of 2019, how this occurred was still a mystery to scientists, but it had to have happened quickly because the dinosaur laid undisturbed for millions of years while it was covered by the substrate.

National Geographic

Because of its pristine condition, scientists were able to use modern scans to get a glimpse inside the dinosaur’s hard exoskeleton. They saw the bone structure and even some internal workings of the beast’s stomach. That’s how well preserved this find was.

National Geographic

Researchers from the museum and around the world worked for six years and for over 7,000 hours to test, preserve, and prepare the remains of this precious find. The Nodosaur is on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum for those wishing to get a look at the closest thing to a real dinosaur.

Wikimedia Commons

In early 2019, scientists were still studying the Nodosaur and its scans to continue to learn about dinosaurs in general, as nothing like this have ever been found before. This find has not only changed the way we think about dinosaurs, but it has also confirmed nearly two centuries of science.

National Geographic