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Missouri Paleontologist Shares Story Of Unearthing Rare Triceratops Skull

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David Schmidt
The Triceratops skull is facing right, with its nasal horn pointing to the top right corner of the image.

Earlier this summer, David Schmidt and a small team unearthed a rare triceratops skull in the South Dakota Badlands. Schmidt, an associate professor of geology and environmental science at Westminster College, told St. Louis Public Radio’s Shahla Farzan, “You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid.”

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, Schmidt talked with host Sarah Fenske about what the excavation process was like and what he and his fellow researchers hope to learn from the bones of the dinosaur they named “Shady,” in recognition of the residents of the Shadehill community where Shady was found.

“There are a lot of clues that are preserved in the surrounding rock that can give us a lot of information about the environmental conditions in which this animal was living,” Schmidt said. “There’s also features on the bone that we recognized. There’s potential bite marks. There’s also some really odd growths on the bone that may have been from damage during its life, where the bone rehealed, or it might have had some sort of bone disease.”

The skull was transported to Westminster College, where Schmidt and his students will now begin cleaning the skull and piecing together the bones they found nearby. Because the specimen was found on public land, it is on loan to the college from the federal government.

Schmidt said the ultimate resting place for Shady will likely be a museum, where further research can be conducted.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Emily is the senior producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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