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.

Wikimedia Commons

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!

National Geographic

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 had ever been found before. However, not far away, archeologists made a discovery that rivaled that of the Nodosaur.

National Geographic

See, the Heiltsuk people, the First Nation indigenous to British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, have laid claim to the remote Triquet Island for nearly 5,000 years. But archaeologists have dismissed their claim of ownership for one glaring reason…

Simon Fraser University

The continental glacier that formed over Canada during the last Ice Age would’ve also covered Triquet Island, making it uninhabitable. But even with the facts stacked against the Heiltsuk, a small group of researchers took it upon themselves to uncover the truth once and for all.

The Robinson Library

The archaeologists began an extensive excavation of the remote island in the hope of discovering traces of a past civilization. What they found there not only shocked the entire archaeological community, but it also changed history forever.

Second Nexus

Beneath several layers of earth, they found remnants of an ancient, wood-burning hearth. But how could this be? According to researchers, it would’ve been impossible for humans to dig their way through the glacial ice to get to the soil below.

As they continued digging, researchers unearthed additional artifacts, including tools and weapons. This discovery stumped the team as the Heiltsuk people traditionally didn’t use tools of this kind.

The Heiltsuk people had derived their food source from fishing and smoking salmon, utilizing small, precise tools to harvest the fish. The tools and weapons found were much larger and likely would’ve been used to hunt large sea mammals, such as seals, sea lions, and walruses.

What’s more, the team also uncovered shards of obsidian, a glass-like rock only found in areas of heavy volcanic activity. This discovery also puzzled the archaeologists, as there were no known volcanoes near that part of British Columbia. So, how did this rock — and these people — get there?


The historians deduced that whoever left these artifacts must have traversed the land bridge that existed between Siberia and Alaska during prehistoric times. Yet researchers still needed cold-hard facts…

Luckily, a closer inspection of the hearth revealed ancient charcoal remains, which the archaeologists quickly brought to the lab for carbon dating. When they received the results, the researchers couldn’t believe their eyes: everything they knew was a lie.

According to the carbon dating report, these bits of charcoal were an astonishing 14,000 years old, making them the oldest carbon remains ever to be discovered in North America.

Even by global standards, this was an extraordinary find. After all, these simple pieces of charcoal were older than the Great Pyramid of Giza and even predated the invention of the wheel! But that’s not the most remarkable fact about this discovery.

The 14,000-year-old discovery placed the earliest Heiltsuk at Triquet Island 2,000 years before the end of the ice age. Therefore, the island couldn’t have been covered by the massive continental glacier. And that’s not all.

Since Triquet Island was surrounded on all sides by water, the early Heiltsuk would’ve used boats to traverse the open waters. Boats, however, were not believed to have been invented until centuries later.


This meant that the Heiltsuk settled the area 2,000 years before initially believed. If this was the case, then these early men likely crossed paths with some of history’s most formidable beasts.

As the Heiltsuk people made their way south from the land bridge, they likely had to fend off giant creatures like mastodons, woolly mammoths, and giant sloths. But somehow, these humans survived, and it’s likely for one crucial reason.

Thanks to the Pacific Ocean itself, the sea level at Triquet Island remained constant for over 15,000 years. So as the sea gradually eroded the surrounding islands, the great beasts of the Pacific Northwest were kept at bay, leaving the Heiltsuk to a peaceful, secluded existence.

The most astounding realization that’s come to light is the fact that the Heiltsuk people were able to preserve their history orally for nearly 14,000 years. However, they are still being deprived of their history’s legitimacy.

When the media caught wind of the story, they seemed to focus more on what the discovery meant for the scientific community rather than acknowledge the rich history of the Heiltsuk. To many, the media’s portrayal of the nation was seen as highly disrespectful.

As a result, University of Victoria student Alisha Gauvreau — who was present during the excavation — has dedicated herself to shifting the focus of the dialogue toward the Heiltsuk people.

The Heiltsuk claim to Triquet Island stands as one of the oldest land-ownership claims in the world. Not only does this discovery speak volumes about the strength of the Heiltsuk people, but it also represents the indomitable spirit of mankind.

kris krüg / Flickr