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'Irreplaceable' dinosaur fossil destroyed

July 7, 2012 at 4:02 PM   |   Comments

EDMONTON, Alberta, July 7 (UPI) -- An "irreplaceable" dinosaur fossil destroyed at a dig in western Canada is the fourth fossil to be damaged in the last two months, a paleontologist says.

The skeleton of a duck-billed Hadrosaur was discovered in Alberta June 15 by paleontologist Phil Bell and a team from the University of Alberta, CBC News reported.

At that time, the fossil was partially uncovered by the team and then reburied so it could be removed from the site in mid-July.

When Bell visited the site Thursday, he discovered the 3.28-foot fossil was destroyed, and bones were either missing or scattered around the site.

Bell said the piece was to be featured in an exhibit at the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, which is planned to open in the area next year.

"This was the find of the season for us. There was a lot of excitement around it. Now it's just kind of a salvage operation, trying to put back the pieces. But it's going to be significantly less than what it was going to be," Bell said. "It's an irreplaceable loss."

Three other fossils have been damaged at the dig site since May, Bell said.

"[It's] trophy hunting," he said. "People want something to put on their mantel. I don't think there is a black market for these things."

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