Dinomite Gift: Scientist Wants to Give Reykjavík 65-Million-Year-Old Triceratops Skeleton Skip to content
Photo: Reykjavíkurborg, FB.

Dinomite Gift: Scientist Wants to Give Reykjavík 65-Million-Year-Old Triceratops Skeleton

Iceland may soon be welcoming an exceptional new resident, and quite an elderly one at that. Vísir reports that the City of Reykjavík may receive a 65-million-year-old triceratops skeleton from half-Icelandic scientist Marcus Eriksen, who is overseeing its excavation in the US state of Wyoming.

Eriksen is the co-founder of Leap Lab, “a center for art, science, and self-reliance,” which hosts an annual “Dino Extinction Expedition” during which laypeople, “ranging from four years old to 84,” take part in archeological digs for dinosaur skeletons in Wyoming’s Niobara County. Per the organization’s website, the goal of involving non-specialists in the excavation process is to “provide convincing evidence that preserving biodiversity and habitat today is essential to staving off the 6th extinction.”

Known as Ken, the triceratops skeleton was found five years ago by Eriksen’s daughter, Avani Cummings, who was only five years old at the time. Cummings’ first discovery was part of a rib, and that was followed by several more bones, including a vertebra from Ken’s tail. “We found some bite marks on it from a T-Rex,” Eriksen explained on the City of Reykjavik website. “This tells us a story about a dinosaur that managed to escape a predator and survive!”

Eriksen and his family, including his daughter Avani, who first found one of Ken’s bones when she was only five. Photo: Reykjavíkurborg, FB

Gift in honor of his mother

Interested amateur archeologists are invited to participate in one of Leap Lab’s two, week-long expeditions that will take place in July 2023. Eriksen is particularly interested in getting Icelanders involved in the dig. “I’d really like to get people from Reykjavík to come out to Wyoming next summer,” he said. “It would be nice for Icelanders to participate in the whole process, including digging up the bones.”

Amateur archeologists of all ages participate in the dino dig. Photo: Reykjavíkurborg, FB

About 30% of Ken’s bones have been excavated thus far. And after the skeleton is fully exhumed next summer, Eriksen would like to give it to Iceland, which has no such artefacts of its own. It’s likely that some bones will be missing from the skeleton, but Eriksen doesn’t think that will pose any problems for future exhibition. “I’m currently 3D scanning all the missing bones and think it would be great if we could find a 3D printer in Reykjavík and print out the bones that are missing there.”

There would be two conditions on the gift, however. Firstly, Eriksen wants the skeleton to be gifted in the name of his mother, who grew up in the capital, and secondly, he wants it to be displayed in a museum in Reykjavík.

Reykjavíkurborg, FB

“The gift would be given in the name of my mother and her siblings, who grew up in Reykjavík,” he said. “They’re now in their 90s. My mom moved to the US when I was three years old. She always worked hard to make sure that my brother and I were treated well, and I can thank her for my thirst for knowledge and strong, Icelandic work ethic. I’ve heard countless stories about her life in Reykjavík in the mid-20th century and I’d like to honor her generation with this gift to the city.”

The Reykjavík City Council has agreed to establish a working group to review the proposal to assess how much the gift would cost the city, confirm the skeleton’s provenance, and explore local museums’ interest in hosting Ken, should the city accept Eriksen’s gift. It’s anticipated that their assessment will be completed by May 1.

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