Mike the Mad Biologist

Fossil Mummy Dinosaur

No, it doesn’t eat brains: that would be a fossil zombie dinosaur. From The Washington Post:

A high school student hunting fossils in the badlands of his native North Dakota discovered an extremely rare mummified dinosaur that includes not just bones but also seldom seen fossilized soft tissue such as skin and muscles, scientists will announce today.

….”He looks like a blow-up dinosaur in some parts,” said Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester in England who is leading the inquiry. “When you actually look at the detail of the skin, the scales themselves are three dimensional. . . . The arm is breathtaking. It’s a three-dimensional arm, you can shake the dinosaur by the hand. It just defies logic that such a remarkable specimen could preserve.”

Although it is described as “mummified,” the 65 million-year-old duckbilled dinosaur that scientists have named Dakota bears no similarity to the leather-skinned human mummies retrieved from ancient tombs in Egypt. Time long ago transformed Dakota’s soft tissue into mineralized rock, preserving it for the ages.

…Already, the scientists say they have made fascinating discoveries. The skin around the tail and on large swaths of the body appears generally in its original shape rather than squashed flat against the bones, giving researchers a three-dimensional look at Dakota. They can see both legs and arms and the chest cavity. The head and neck are not visible, but the researchers think they may be folded within the body block. They do not know whether the internal organs are there, nor have they determined the creature’s sex, although they refer to it as a male.

The scientists have felt the scales near Dakota’s elbow, noticing that they vary in size — an indication, perhaps, of changes in skin color, texture or flexibility. They found a fleshy pad on its palm, an indication that it did not permanently walk on all fours, and keratin hooves on its feet.

The areas of uncollapsed skin have aided researchers in reconstructing Dakota’s muscle sizes and allowed them to see, for instance, that a hadrosaur’s backside was about 25 percent larger than previously thought. They estimate that Dakota could run as fast as 28 mph, faster than a Tyrannosaurus rex, the top predator of the time.

Now, if devoured brains that would be really cool…

Comments

  1. #1 Anon
    December 5, 2007

    Did they find a fossilized Abbot and Costello?

  2. #2 Lemur
    December 5, 2007

    Oddity in regards to sciblogs’ “last 24-hour” channel: I get as a headline this:

    Fossil Mummy Dinosaur No, it doesn’t eat brains: that would be a fossil mummy dinosaur.

    Which as you might suspect, caused a great deal of confusion until I clicked through.

  3. #3 Rob
    December 8, 2007

    awwSome Kewl!! Thanks for pointing this one out Mike. Remembering that dinos are often the original stepping stone a lot of the ‘littlest scientists’ make, this article was perfect for forwarding to my nieces.

    And a wonderful quote from Dr Jack Horner (emphasis mine):

    “The job of a scientist is to be skeptical until evidence is presented. . . . We try not to put stuff out to the public before it’s been peer-reviewed. Otherwise you get all kinds of crazy stuff out there.”

  4. #4 sex shop
    October 2, 2008

    very good.

  5. #5 hikaye
    October 2, 2008

    very

  6. #6 ?i?me bebek
    March 25, 2009

    thanks for you