US college student unearths 65-million-year-old Triceratops skull

A US college student made an incredible discovery on a paleontology dig when he unearthed an ancient dinosaur skull.

Harrison Duran, a fifth-year at the University of California, discovered the 65-million-year-old partial skull on June 5.

The remains were identified as a Triceratops. Duran named them Alice, after the woman who owns the land on which they were found.

"I can't quite express my excitement in that moment when we uncovered the skull," said Duran in a news release from the university on Wednesday.

"I've been obsessed with dinosaurs ever since I was a little kid, so it was a pretty big deal."

Duran's obsession with dinosaurs led him to accompany experienced excavator and biology professor Michael Kjelland on the two-week dig in the Badlands of North Dakota.

Duran found the skull four days into the dig.

Along with Alice's remains, they found fossilised wood and tree leaves.

It took a week to excavate Alice completely. The fragile skull was stabilised with glue and then coated in foil and plaster. 

Michael Kjelland poses with Alice after she was plaster cast
Michael Kjelland poses with Alice after she was plaster cast Photo credit: University of California MERCED

The remains were then put in a box, wrapped in a memory foam mattress and driven to a secret location before they can be moved to Kjelland's lab.

Secrecy was necessary as Kjelland explained the bones could be very valuable.

"There have been people in the past who have stolen dinosaur bones," he said.

Duran and Kjelland intend to make a cast of Alice. Duran hopes to display the cast at the university. One day he hopes to bring the real bones to the campus.

"It's such a rare opportunity to showcase something like this, and I'd like to share it with the campus community."