The skeleton was discovered Tuesday when the operator moved some earth and inadvertently broke off a piece of the prehistoric beast. The worker thought he had simply hived off some rock about one-and-a-half metres down and laid the chunk aside, but then he noticed the exposed fossil in an embankment and stopped digging.

Paleontologist Matthew Vavrek calls the find this week near Spirit River “a significant fossil discovery.” He said the challenge now is to carefully recover the fossil and perhaps find other parts to help determine the type of dinosaur.

The site has been shut down while palaeontologists from Alberta’s Tyrrell Museum and National Geographic examine the remains.