There are many surprising places covered with strange fossils from the past. Dinosaurs, in particular, roamed the planet millions of years ago, but their fossils always captivate the imagination of billions globally. While most dinosaur fossils are found in remote places, some have been discovered in the most unusual of places. Here are some of the most unexpected places where dinosaur fossils have been found around the world.
10 A Construction Site At The University Of Massachusetts
An aerial view of Massachusetts University
One of the most unusual places fossils have been found is in Massachusetts in the United States. In 2021, a Geology professor was strolling through the Amherst Campus, University of Massachusetts, when a pile of loose rocks on construction rubble caught his eye. Being rock-curious, the professor asked if he could collect some to add to a garden.
Later, upon inspecting it with X-ray, he discovered that one of the rocks wasn’t a rock but the fossil of a neotheropod, a large dinosaur species from the Early Jurassic Age. Neotheropods’ roamed the earth before the T. Rex and are considered the largest predatory dinosaurs of the early Jurassic period.
9 In A Personal Construction Project In Portugal
The flag of Portugal flying
Imagine overseeing your home’s construction project only to discover the remains of one of Earth’s most captivating extinct species—the sauropod! Well, that’s what happened when a Portuguese native was overseeing a construction project in his backyard in 2017.
The person noticed some bone fragments sticking out of the ground. Upon further excavation, local scientists ended up with 10-foot-long ribs and the vertebrae of an 82-foot-long fossil of a Saurapod that lived about 160 million years ago.
8 An Entire Nest Of Eggs During A Desert Expedition In Mongolia
A model of dinosaur eggs and baby hatchlings
In the 90s, renowned paleontologists, among them David Fastovsky, were on an expedition in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert when they bumped into a dinosaur egg nest. What makes this discovery so special and unexpected isn’t just the age of the nest (70 million years) but the nest itself.
Previously, dinosaurs had been thought to ditch their younglings after they hatch, but the presence of 15 well-preserved eggs in the nest proved the contrary, adding to the list of growing evidence that these giant reptiles weren’t a bunch of deadbeats.
7 In Norway’s North Sea
A cruise ship in Norway, North Sea
Dinosaurs were mostly land dwellers, so when a dinosaur fossil is discovered in the ocean at a depth of over 7000 feet, that’s undoubtedly unexpected. That’s exactly what happened when workers of an oil company were busy trying to drill through the North Sea in 1997.
They were in the final stages of drilling when the drill hit the knucklebone of a Platesaurus, a dinosaur species said to have walked Earth over 200 million years ago during the late Triassic period. In addition to being unexpected, this discovery was even more special for being the only dinosaur fossil ever found in Norway’s jurisdiction.
6 A Subway Station In Paris
Train substation in Paris, France
In 1895, workers excavating a subway station in Paris discovered a dinosaur bone embedded in a layer of limestone. The fossil was identified as belonging to a small theropod dinosaur, similar to a Velociraptor, that lived approximately 145 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous period.
The discovery was one of the earliest recorded instances of a dinosaur fossil being found in an urban setting. The fossil is now on display at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.
5 A Birthing Fossil In China
A 3D image of an Ichthyosaur, Stenopterygius quadriscissus swimming in the ocean
They say dinosaurs were busy existing when an asteroid struck the earth, wiping out everything in its wake. If that theory is anything to go by, then this mother dinosaur found in South Majiashan in China had it bad—they were caught mid-dinosaur birth.
Fossil remains show the dinosaur was an Ichthyosaurs, and she was about to birth triplets as one was found under the mother’s body, the second had just managed a taste of earth’s air—it was halfway out the birth canal. The third one, fortunately, escaped the brunt of the asteroid by being inside its mother’s belly. On the bright side, the discovery proved that the sea-dwelling dinosaur species gave birth on land, not at sea, as previously assumed.
4 On A Beach On Prince Edward Island
Small cockapoo dog wanders in front of the lighthouse at Panmure Island, Prince Edward Island
As noted, dinosaurs were land-dwelling animals, so it’s always a surprise when their remains are found near water bodies as secluded as Prince Edward Island. In this particular instance, the serendipitous discoverer was a high school teacher out daily with her dog. The teacher, Lisa, was busy collecting some sea glass when she noticed something like a tree root sticking out of the sand.
As she got closer, she realized it wasn’t a tree root but a well-connected fossil—a rib cage, a spine, and a skull.
3 A Swimming Dinosaur In The Gobi Desert
A sandstone at the Flaming Cliffs, the northern Gobi Desert, in Mongolia
Dinosaurs in the theropods group were long considered non-avian until the fossils of Natovenator Polydantus were discovered in Mongolia. The Natovenator Polydantus is said to have lived 72 million years ago. Unlike its bigger cousins, T-rex (which is the biggest dinosaur fossil ever found) and the likes, it was smaller and built like a diving bird with a goose-like neck, proving that, unlike typical theropods, the Polydantus fancied sea dwellings.
This discovery is even more mind-bending because, despite its avian features, Natovenator Polydantus fossils were found deep in the heart of the Gobi Desert, a rain shadow desert millions of miles away from any water body. The word Gobi itself means waterless place.
2 A Quarry In Germany
A computer generated 3D illustration of a Pliosaur Kronosaurus swimming in the sea
In 2013, a team of paleontologists discovered the remains of a giant prehistoric sea reptile known as a pliosaur in a quarry in Germany. The pliosaur lived approximately 150 million years ago during the Late Jurassic period and was one of the largest predators of its time.
The discovery was significant because it provided new insights into the diversity and behavior of prehistoric marine creatures. The fossil is now on display at the Bürgermeister-Müller-Museum in Solnhofen, Germany.
1 A Coal Mine In Russia
Yenisei river in Udachny village, Russia
In 2016, miners in a diamond mine in Udachny, Russia, discovered a strange object that turned out to be a dinosaur. The fossil, which they nicknamed Monster Mummy, belonged to an unknown dinosaur species that lived about 110 million years ago.