World’s Best Preserved ‘Dinosaur Mummy’ Was 1360 kg When Alive, Weighs 1130 kg After Ages
Scientists are hailing this prehistoric dinosaur as the “best-preserved dinosaur on Earth.” In fact, it is so well preserved that it cannot be defined as a fossil. This magnificent ancient 18-foot-long specimen has been called a genuine “dinosaur mummy.”
On May 12, 2017, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada, unveiled a dinosaur exhibit: “We don’t just have a skeleton,” Caleb Brown, a researcher at the museum, told National Geographic. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”
Since it was unearthed, it has kept its shape; its bones aren’t visible and even some of its innards are still intact. Researchers were amazed at the extent of the almost unparalleled degree of preservation.
The dinosaur is so well preserved that it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago,” Jakob Vinther, a paleobiologist from the University of Bristol, said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
The creature was first discovered in 2011 when an oil mine employee named Shawn Funk inadvertently discovered the specimen while at work.
While Funk was excavating that day, he was surprised to find something he had never discovered in 12 years of digging. In the afternoon, Funk’s excavator’s claw struck something different. He and his supervisor, Mike Gratton, started to wonder what these strange colored lumps were. They questioned if these were fossilized wood or an animal’s ribs?
“Right away, Mike was like, ‘We gotta get this checked out,’” Funk said in a 2011 interview. “It was definitely nothing we had ever seen before.” Surprisingly, this wasn’t fossilized wood or a petrified tree stump but a fossilized dinosaur.
From its finding, it took researchers six years and around 7,000 hours to conduct tests on the evidence collected and prepare the remnants to be displayed at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.
Over 100 million years ago, when this ancient prehistoric creature roamed the earth, it was a member of a newly discovered species and genus named the Nodosaur.
According to paleontologists, this bizarre fossil was first of its kind. Usually, it’s rare to find a fossil that keeps its soft tissue in its true shape. It’s common to see bones and teeth well preserved. So indeed, this was an amazing discovery.
It was a gigantic four-legged herbivore, and its body was protected by spiky, plated “armor.” This nodosaur originally weighed around 3,000 pounds (approx. 1,361 kg) when it was alive. The mummified nodosaur is so unimpaired that it still weighs 2,500 pounds (approx. 1,134 kg)! Truly marvelous!
When the museum put up pictures of the dinosaur on their Facebook page, one curious user commented: “What was it’s favorite plant to eat? Was it prone to calm then hissing and snapping like a turtle when provoked, or was it’s demeanor different? Can you tell if it’s male or female?”
To which Brown replied: “1) We don’t know what its favorite plant food was. We do know that it would have enjoyed plants growing close to the ground, as it would not have been able to reach very high up. Hopefully, analysis of the stomach contents will allow us to determine the last plants that it ate. 2) We don’t know what its demeanor was like. It would have probably been slow moving, but we are unsure if it was a gentle giant or was defensive, snapping creature. 3) We also don’t know if it was male or female. Outside of finding eggs inside the animal, there are few ways to tell male and female dinosaurs apart. Although the skin is preserved on much of the animal, we don’t have the pelvic region preserved, so we also can’t see any structures that may have been preserve there. It is interesting to consider what may have been preserved had that region been recovered.”
The question of how the dinosaur could have remained so intact after it was unearthed still baffles scientists, although according to National Geographic, researchers are putting forth the theory that the creature may have been carried away to sea by a “flooded river” where it sank. As it lay there undisturbed, the armor and skin were replaced by minerals over the course of millions of years. This gave it the form that it is currently in, on exhibit.
Alluding to this amazing find, Brown said: “It will go down in science history as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved dinosaur specimens—the Mona Lisa of dinosaurs.”
With the dinosaur mummy on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, visitors have an opportunity to observe what is considered to be the closest thing to an original dinosaur. On seeing this amazing specimen, perhaps visitors will be able to vividly visualize the lives and times of dinosaurs, so many millions of years ago.