Monday, December 03, 2007

Dinosaur Mummy

I saw several places this morning information on a dinosaur "mummy" found in North Dakota in 1999. "Mummy" really isn't the proper term - the fossil cast is unusual in that the soft tissues are very apparent:

"Unlike the collections of bones found in museums, this hadrosaur came complete with skin, ligaments, tendons and possibly some internal organs, according to researchers.

The study is not yet complete, but scientists have concluded that hadrosaurs were bigger -- 3 1/2 tons and up to 40 feet long -- and stronger than had been known, were quick and flexible and had skin with scales that may have been striped."

The interpretation of stripes is based on the observation of bands of different sized scales on the skin. It's been very frustrating that pictures of this haven't been posted that I can find.

This reminded me of a Douglas Preston adventure novel I read last year, Tyrannosaur Canyon, where the plot revolves around the discovery of of a T-rex preserved in a similar manner, but the mineral grain size is so small you can see features down to the cellular level.


Brett said...

Has some pictures, but I'm betting most won't be shown until after the TV special on Sunday.



Matt Mullenix said...

Neat pictures. thanks!

I'm sort of amazed at the mention of the discovery of soft-tissue discs in between vertebrae, and that this suggests they were longer and more limber than current reconstructions allow.

Did we not assume they had the same sorts of tissue modern birds and reptiles have? I'm asking.

Brett said...

I didn't get that either. I can't believe that no one thought they would have disks between the vertebrae. It just seems really obvious to me.

I was disappointed in the shows. Very blah. Nothing really new and the Dino Death Trap show... they found 40 species of dinosaur and we learned about Guanlong... I know it's a possible T. rex ancestor but they have 39 more animals! A ceratosaur with no teeth! Argh! Now I have to wait for the fricken papers....