Victoria will soon lay claim to the world’s most complete and finely preserved Triceratops fossil.
Museums Victoria on Wednesday confirmed it has acquired an 87 per cent complete fossil of a Triceratops horridus dinosaur, dated as 67 million years old.
The $3 million acquisition, set to relocate from Canada to Melbourne Museum for a free exhibition from late 2021, includes skin impressions, tendons, a spine and a 261-kilogram skull.
“This is among the most globally significant dinosaur discoveries ever made,” Museums Victoria chief Lynley Crosswell said.
“We know our Triceratops will delight and amaze audiences and inspire us to consider the remarkable wonder and fragility of life on Earth.”
Museums Victoria senior curator of palaeontology Dr Erich Fitzgerald said the specimen could provide key clues to the anatomy and biology of the Triceratops.
“This fossil comprises hundreds of bones, including a complete skull and the entire vertebral column, which will help us unlock mysteries about how this species lived 67 million years ago,” Dr Fitzgerald said.
Discovered on the ranges of a private property in Montana, north-western US, in 2014, the Triceratops specimen is larger than a full-grown African elephant, weighing in at more than 1000 kilograms.
It is nearly seven metres long and more than two metres tall, with a 1.48-metre-wide frill and three horns.
A team of experts from Museums Victoria earlier this year travelled to Canada, where extensive preparation is under way to excavate the Triceratops from the rock it is encased in and transport it to Melbourne.
“I’ve loved dinosaurs since I was a kid and always wanted to be a paleontologist … (but) to see the world’s best, most beautifully preserved fossil of Triceratops was something I’d never imagined,” Dr Fitzgerald said.
“It is going to be the canonical example of one of the world’s most ever enduringly popular natural phenomena.”
Victorian Creative Industries Minister Danny Pearson said the acquisition, paid for by the state government and Museums Victoria, was the “Mona Lisa of dinosaurs”.