(CNN) – Nathan Khrushkin has wanted to be a paleontologist for as long as he can remember, and the 12-year-old has already made a significant discovery.
He discovered a partially discovered dinosaur fossil while traveling with his father this summer at a conservation site in Horseshoe Canyon in the Badlands of Alberta, Canada.
“It’s pretty amazing to find something real, like a real dinosaur discovery,” he told CNN. “It’s been my dream for a while.”
Nathan is a seventh-grader in Calgary who is about an hour and a half away.
The fossil is a shoulder bone from the shoulder of a juvenile hadrosaurus – a dinosaur with a duck that lived about 69 million years ago, according to a news release from the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Nathan and his father, Dion, had found bone fragments in the area on a previous hike, and thought they might have washed further up the hill.
They were just finishing lunch when Nathan went up the hill to look.
“He called me, he said, ‘Dad, you have to come up here,’ and as soon as he said I could tell from the tone of his voice that he had found something,” Dion Khrushkin said.
Nathan said the fossil was very obvious and looked like “a scene in a TV show or a cartoon or something.”
They sent photos of the bone to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, which identified the fossils and sent a team of paleontologists to the site.
Fossils are protected by law in Alberta, and the NCC said it’s important that people don’t break any fossils they may find.
The crew worked at the site for about two months and found between 30 and 50 bones obtained from a young hadrosaur, which was about three or four years old, the statement said.
Adrosaurus bones are the most common fossils found in poor Alberta, but few young skeletons have been found, the statement said. It is also found in a layer of rock that rarely retains fossils.
“This young hadrosaurus is a very important discovery because it comes from an interval of time that we know very little about what dinosaurs or animals lived in Alberta,” said Francois Terien, curator of dinosaur paleoecology at the Royal Tyrell Museum. . “The discovery of Nathan and Dion will help us fill this great gap in our knowledge of the evolution of dinosaurs.”
The fossils were very close together, so paleontologists removed large pieces of surrounding rock from the canyon walls.
The bones were then covered with a protective jacket made of burlap and plaster so that they could be taken to the museum for cleaning and further study.
One of the fossil-rich slabs weighed about 1,000 pounds and was more than four feet wide, according to Karis Richards, communications manager at NCC.
Nathan had heard of the hadrosaurus before his great find, but said it was not the most famous dinosaur.
Probably his favorite now – to defeat the wildly popular Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Nathan and his father came to see the excavations several times after the discovery and were there on Thursday when the team retrieved the last specimens.
“It was a lot of fun to be there and watch them do their thing,” Nathan said.