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Denver museum to study, restore triceratops fossil

DENVER – The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has announced it will study a triceratops skull known as Pops for up to a year before returning it to Weld County.

Museum curator Joe Sertich contacted the county in 2018 about studying the fossil and said that in exchange, he would clean and repair it to ensure it stays in good condition, The Greeley Tribune reported.

Kenneth Carpenter, a University of Colorado paleontologist and professor, discovered Pops in 1982 near Briggsdale, about 40 miles east of Fort Collins. Roland Mapelli, owner of the property where it was found, donated the fossil to the county.

It is the first complete triceratops skull found in the state, county officials said. Scientists believe it is about 60 million years old.

“This is really exciting for the residents of the county,” Weld County Commission Chairman Mike Freeman said. “Many people aren’t aware this piece of history was discovered right here in Weld County. Now with the help of the museum, we’ll be able to learn more about this impressive fossil.”

The skull has been in Greeley since the 1980s. The Denver museum said the fossil will be on display in the laboratory window as part of the Prehistoric Journey Exhibit, and photos and discoveries are expected to be shared on social media.

In addition to the research and restoration aspect of the project, Weld County also is working with schools, libraries and others to share news and develop learning opportunities for the public.

Pops is expected to be back on display at the Weld County Administration Building in late 2021.