Not Your Typical Day: You Won’t Believe What This Man Found While Working On A Construction Site

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By: Lauren Wurth | Published: Dec 22, 2022

For Shawn Funk, it was just another day on a construction site. Suddenly, he hit something, and his fellow workers rushed to see what had happened. He didn’t understand what they were so interested in. Then he heard a collective gasp as they looked down.

No one would ever forget this day, especially Funk. He had hit upon something spectacular, and the adventure was just beginning.

Meet Shawn

Shawn Funk had 12 years experience with mining, construction, and heavy machinery. Performing digging work for all those years, he’d experienced many moments of amazement, uncovering unusual items that the crew would rush to see. Few things surprised him.

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It was just another day at work, but when the crew came rushing to see what he’d hit, he knew by the looks on their faces that something big had happened. Yet, he had no idea what awaited him.

Loving the Job

Funk loved his job – being outdoors, working a big backhoe, and working for the Millenium Mine in Alberta, Canada.

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From high atop his machine, he enjoyed surveying the land and watching the changes he and his workmates made with their heavy equipment. A bit of a dreamer, he hoped to find something unusual someday. That day had come.

It’s Not Just a Rock

That day he put in long hours like every other day, digging up rocks and lifting them into the air before putting them down in a new location. He often thought about the age of the rock layers, what might have been preserved in them, and what he might find one day. 

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He wondered to himself, “Who walked in this area? How did they live? What did they eat?”  These thoughts occupied him during his long hours of moving the mammoth rocks.

Will I Ever Find Something Special?

Shawn thought about a news segment he had seen recently. A miner had found an ancient egg in a local mine. He tried to imagine how that felt and once again got to thinking about something he might uncover one day.

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Then his mind cleared. He laughed a bit at his wild imagination and returned to work.

Just then, his machine hit something hard, startling him and everyone around him. 

Let’s Take a Look

Shawn shook the loose earth from his excavator and went to see what he had struck. The rocks were unusual, and he wasn’t sure what they were, so to be safe, he set them down on the back of his truck to investigate later.

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Just as he was about to climb back into the excavator to continue his work, he glanced down at the hole he’d made with his latest dig. He had never seen anything like it before and knew he had come upon something important. His heart was racing – he had just been daydreaming about finding something unique – had he done that?

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The Slow Realization

Shawn stared at the hole and then realized he needed assistance from the crew. In that hole was a large, oddly shaped, and textured rock. He’d never seen anything like it in all his years of mining and digging. So what was this odd thing?  

 

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He ran to his truck to call for officials and more help, but as he waited, he worried that the rock would sink further into the vast hole he’d just dug. Finally, realizing he couldn’t wait any longer, he climbed onto his excavator and tried to dig the item out. But he couldn’t do it by himself.

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This is Something Special

Funk knew it was time to call in the specialists who deal with unusual underground discoveries. He’d been looking at rocks all his professional life – and had a gut feeling that he’d stumbled upon something rare. However, he was panicking that the loose ground would swallow this huge rock before the specialists arrived.  

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Despairing of losing the boulder forever as the ground threatened to give way, he followed his gut feeling and kept working on releasing the gigantic item. Then, just at the right time, he heard another loud noise and looked behind him. What was happening?

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The Cavalry Arrives

What a wonderful noise that was – a large crane had just arrived at the scene. Together the two operators dug beneath the rock just enough to fit wooden planks to keep it steady.

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The crane then lifted the rock into the air. Everyone watching held their breath – praying that the crane would not drop the heavy boulder. Shawn was still in shock – this was his find, the one he’d waited and hoped for, and it was real.

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The Boulder is Out

Once the crane lifted the rock out of the pit, there was a brief period of relief, but much more work awaited the crew. After all, the boulder was hanging in the air at this point – anything could happen. And no one knew what was hiding inside. 

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The crane gently lowered the boulder to the ground. There was another sign of relief. Then came a thunderous sound – had they broken the boulder by lifting it or by setting it down? What if they ruined whatever they’d found? The boulder had cracked open, and everyone gazed upon something they would never forget.

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Enter the Paleontologists!

By this time, the team from the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology had arrived – the folks that are called when anything unusual is found underground. They hurried to the now-open boulder and stood in shocked amazement.

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The scientists questioned Funk about how he came upon the boulder and then set upon their tasks to carefully dig through each piece of rock and cobble together the bits. As it became clear what they were seeing, the rest of the onlookers gasped.

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It Just Can’t Be

What Shawn Funk had happened upon was an incredibly life-like fossilized dinosaur from 112 million years ago. The creature was almost perfectly preserved, petrified from its nose to its mid-section.

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The dinosaur still had teeth, bones, parts of its intestines, and portions of skin. This find is one of the rarest types, and the first question on everyone’s mind was, “how did this creature get to this spot?”

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Where Did You Come From, Sir? Or Ma’am?

The paleontologists had a field day with this new find. Their theory is that Mr. or Ms. Dinosaur had been swept into a river by a major flood event. The gases in its body kept it afloat and pushed it far out into the ocean.

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At some point, the carcass burst from the pent-up gases and sank into the ocean floor. Over the 112 million years that the body sat on the ocean floor, minerals flowed into its skin and allowed the creature to maintain its shape, then rocks piled on top of it for millions of years.

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A New Name for a New Dinosaur

Nodosaur.  That’s the name that the paleontologists gave this brand-new species – that’s right, this type of dinosaur had never been seen before Shawn Funk’s discovery. Over the next six years, scientists from all over the world tested and re-assembled the dinosaur’s remains, trying simultaneously to uncover its history.

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The scientists’ studies concluded that the Nodosaur was a four-legged creature covered in tough armor-like skin with large spikes and had a long tail. 

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A Stay-at-Home Dino?

Shawn Funk knew that the dinosaur was heavy – he hadn’t been able to lift it with his heavy equipment; he’d needed help from the giant crane. When the scientists returned the creature to their labs, they weighed the fossilized dinosaur and estimated it weighed about two and a half tons. 

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The research scientists estimated that it would have weighed close to 3,000 pounds when alive. 

At that weight, it probably didn’t run around a lot in its world over 100 million years ago. Maybe it stayed home and watched the kids.  

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An Incredible, Miraculous Find

What was the likelihood that this creature would end up in this particular spot and that Shawn Funk would happen upon it during a typical workday? Those questions boggle the mind. Firstly, the Nodosaur had a long, arduous journey to the spot.

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Secondly, how could it have sat undisturbed there, preserved almost entirely intact, for millions of years? It had traveled through a flood, floated on the water, sunk to the bottom of the ocean, and had been covered by oil, rocks, and water.

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Seeing What’s Inside

Aside from the study of the skin and bones, since the Nodosaur was found in such good condition the scientists used x-rays to see inside its skeleton and learn even more. 

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X-rays showed not only the Nodosaur’s bone structure but even allowed scientists to examine the animal’s stomach. Scientists worldwide were astounded as they read the findings published by the examining researchers – this was one find in, well, 110 million.

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Did Shawn Just Go Back to Work?

If you thought that Shawn Funk went on to fame and glory, interviews on the news and the cover of magazines, think again. This humble worker returned to work the next day, knowing he’d achieved his secret life-long dream and played a huge part in one of the world’s most important discoveries. 

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The Nodosaur is on display at the Royal Tyrell Museum and is still being studied. Scientists are working hard to discover more about this creature’s life, habits, and travels.   

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So Much to Learn

Scientists are still spending hours studying the Nodosaur. Each scan they take gives them more profound knowledge of the Nodosaur and dinosaurs in general. 

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From skin, bone, stomach, and other fragments, they have broadened the world’s knowledge about the life of these creatures living so many millions of years ago. The studies will go on for many more years, and it’s all thanks to Shawn Funk and his backhoe.   

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