Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dinosaur Mummy Found With Fossilized Skin And Soft Tissues

Date:
December 3, 2007
Source:
National Geographic Society
Summary:
The amazing discovery of one of the finest and rarest dinosaur specimens ever unearthed -- a partially intact dino mummy found in the Hell Creek Formation Badlands of North Dakota was discovered by 16-year-old fossil hunter Tyler Lyson on his uncle's farm.

The hadrosaur, nicknamed Dakota, as scientists believe it would have looked, based on their analysis of the fossil evidence so far.
Credit: Copyright: Julius T. Csotonyi and 3D model by 422 South/National Geographic Television Art and Animation

The amazing discovery of one of the finest and rarest dinosaur specimens ever unearthed -- a partially intact dino mummy found in the Hell Creek Formation Badlands of North Dakota was made by 16-year-old fossil hunter Tyler Lyson on his uncle's farm.

Related Articles


The story of the find, the excavation of the mummy and its painstaking analysis by a team of international scientists is told in a new book from National Geographic, Grave Secrets of Dinosaurs: Soft Tissues and Hard Science, by internationally renowned British paleontologist Phillip Manning. This story examines a 65-million-year case so cold it's the hottest development in modern dinosaur hunting.

The fossilized remains, discovered in 1999, included not just bones, but fossilized soft tissues like skin, tendons and ligaments. Most importantly, it was the first-ever find of a dinosaur where the skin "envelope" had not collapsed onto the skeleton. This has allowed scientists to calculate muscle volume and mass for the first time. The fact that the skin is mostly intact allows for the exciting possibility that some of its original chemistry is still present.

With the aid of a giant CT scanner provided by the Boeing Company, technology usually reserved for testing aircraft and spacecraft parts for NASA, the team also attempted to peer inside Dakota's preserved body and tail. The scan of the 3,600-kilogram body was of the one of the largest CT scans ever undertaken.

Dino Autopsy reveals what the scans showed and examines the extent to which the results could change our understanding of Hadrosaurs forever. Dakota may contribute some significant findings to the field of palaeontology, altering our comprehension of how dinosaurs looked and moved:

  1. The Hadrosaur's backside appears to be approximately 25 percent larger than previously thought; a surprising conclusion that could change our image of the dinosaur for the last 150 years.
  2. The Hadrosaur's backside is some 25 percent bigger than originally thought, enabling it to reach speeds of 28 mph - 10 mph faster than T. rex.
  3. The skin envelope also shows evidence that the Hadrosaur may have been striped and not block coloured, producing an almost striped camouflage pattern on some parts of the dinosaur.


With its body so well preserved, researchers are able to more accurately estimate the spacing between vertebrae. While most museums have dinosaur bones stacked tightly against each other, Dr. Manning's research suggests that the vertebrae should be stacked approximately one centimetre apart. This could mean that some dinosaurs are at least one metre longer than previously thought.

In this book Manning tells how he and Lyson --- now a geology and geophysics graduate student at Yale University -- and a multidisciplinary team of scientists embarked on an extraordinary project to excavate, preserve and analyze the ancient, enormous creature they have dubbed Dakota, using hard-won experience and cutting-edge technology to peer millions of years into prehistory. The result is an accurate and revealing portrait of a single dinosaur and the Late Cretaceous world in which it lived.

"The fossilized bones of the hadrosaur that Tyler discovered would allow the resurrection of many grave secrets locked in stone for more than 65 million years. The presence of rare soft-tissue structures would ensure that this fossil would become a member of a prehistoric elite - dinosaur mummies... Such remarkable fossils enable immense advances in our understanding of long-vanished lives and forgotten worlds," writes Manning in his prologue.

The book is more than a window into a far distant past. It's also an account of more than a century of paleontological pioneers and accomplishments and a portrait of the state of the art in modern paleontology. Manning takes readers on a chronological tour of the handful of dinosaur mummies that have teased the scientific community since 1908, when the first remarkably preserved example was discovered and excavated by the legendary Sternberg family.

Since then, similar discoveries from Italy to China and from North America to Patagonia have added to our knowledge and understanding of these remarkable fossils - but none so much as Dakota, whose secrets are being explored by Manning's international team of scientists who work with everything from tweezers, plaster and burlap to protein analysis, electron microscopes and the world's largest CT scanner -- originally built to examine NASA spacecraft -- as they excavate, record, analyze and interpret this incredible 8,000-pound find. The field research was partly funded by the National Geographic Society.

Among the exciting discoveries are a fleshy pad on Dakota's palm, hooves on its feet made of keratin, and well-preserved skin scales that vary in size and shape across the body, tail, arms and legs of the dinosaur.

The National Geographic Channel will air a documentary on this unprecedented find on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT. "Dino Autopsy" offers never-before-seen details of what dinosaurs really looked like, as well as clues to how they moved and lived. Using the giant CT scanner provided by the Boeing company at a NASA facility, scientists will attempt to peer inside the preserved body and tail. Their findings may alter our perception of dinosaurs' body shape, skin texture and locomotion. Significant findings have already been made.

Phillip Manning is a paleontologist, fossil hunter and writer. He has taught vertebrate paleontology and evolution at the universities of Liverpool and Manchester and currently heads the vertebrate paleontology research group at the University of Manchester (U.K.). He has worked in museums on the Isle of Wight, Clitheroe, York and Manchester and has held several curatorial positions. His research is both broad and diverse, and he has published papers on dinosaur tracks, theropod biomechanics, arthropod paleobiology, vertebrate locomotion and the evolution of respiration and flight in birds.

For young readers, the discovery is also chronicled in the recently released book Dinomummy: The Life, Death, and Discovery of Dakota, a Dinosaur from Hell Creek, by Phillip Manning (published by Kingfisher Books/Houghton Mifflin), which recounts Tyler Lyson's story about his dinosaur excavations as a teenager on his uncle’s ranch in North Dakota. Lyson now has a degree in biology and is currently studying for a PhD in paleontology at Yale University. He is the founder of the Marmarth Research Foundation, an organization dedicated to the excavation, preservation, and study of dinosaurs (http://www.mrfdigs.com).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Geographic Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Geographic Society. "Dinosaur Mummy Found With Fossilized Skin And Soft Tissues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203103349.htm>.
National Geographic Society. (2007, December 3). Dinosaur Mummy Found With Fossilized Skin And Soft Tissues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203103349.htm
National Geographic Society. "Dinosaur Mummy Found With Fossilized Skin And Soft Tissues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203103349.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins