UNOPS

25/11/2014

Dinosaur dug up on construction site in Guatemala

Managing a project well requires good planning, but even our project team in Guatemala couldn’t have planned for the dusty discovery they made on a hospital building site.

Bone remains of a giant prehistoric armadillo were found on the site of a 230-bed hospital currently being built in Quetzaltenango, the country's second biggest city.

UNOPS made the discovery while digging wells for this $40 million hospital, which will provide up to 300,000 people with better quality health care once complete. Read more about the hospital here.

After stopping the works, UNOPS notified the Guatemalan Anthropology and History Institute and asked the Guatemalan Social Security Institute, which owns the land, for permission to recover the remains.

The bones belonged to a Glyptodon, a creature that weighs the same as a small car and resembles a 'giant armadillo'. An average-sized Glyptodon measures over three metres from head to tail and has short and powerful legs and a shell made up of bony plates.

The recovery team identified the type of fossil, writing notes and taking measurements and photographs during the dig.

A team of paleontologists from Naturaleza Abierta, the company tasked with the recovery effort, roped off the area to perform the delicate job of extracting the remains.

The reasonably well-preserved specimen, which included the animal's shell, skull and some of its vertebrae, was reinforced with plaster to avoid pieces breaking off.

It was then wrapped up.

And transported.

Palaeontologist Lorena Dávila is working on reconstructing the fossil, which measures 1.9 metres long and one metre wide, at the Natural History Museum at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala.

The Glyptodon became extinct about 13,000 years ago and is understood to have been a herbivore, which fed on grass and plants located close to rivers and small waterways.