Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated with dinosaurs. I didn’t care much for Barbie – she was a different kind of man-eater. All I wanted to do was play with plastic dinosaurs and pretend that I was a part of the adventure in The Land Before Time.
My love of dinosaurs didn’t falter when I grew up, and I’ve made a point of seeing their skeletons and fossils in museums ever since. The most impressive example I’ve seen to date was of a dilophosaurus in London’s Natural History Museum.
Now something incredible has happened – something that has fascinated not only avid dinosaur fans, but the rest of the world too. A dinosaur “mummy” has been found with its skin and guts intact, and it’s as incredible as it sounds.
Until Canadian archeologists found an almost-perfectly preserved specimen from the Jurassic era, we had to rely on science to reconstruct a realistic depiction of what dinosaurs looked like. However, the real thing is so much better…
This discovery is so impressive that many scientists are claiming that it’s the best-preserved dinosaur specimen ever found. Around 110 million years after this incredible creature met its fate, it has still got its fearsome appearance.
It was unveiled by the the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada and, although it is technically speaking a fossil, it has been preserved so well that it’s hard not to believe it was preserved artificially like a mummy.
“We don’t just have a skeleton,” Caleb Brown, a researcher at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, said to the National Geographic. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”
So what species is it? Well, you’re unlikely to have heard of it as it’s a newly-discovered species. The dinosaur “mummy” is a nodosaur – a giant plant-eating, armoured beast that weighed 3,000 pounds in its lifetime.
Amazingly, the dinosaur is so well-preserved that it still weighs 2,500 lbs, even after 110 million years of decay.
Scientists as yet are unable to explain why this particular dinosaur has been preserved so much better than any others have been. However, they have theorised what might have happened.
“[It] may have been swept away by a flooded river and carried out to sea, where it eventually sank. Over millions of years on the ocean floor, minerals took the place of the dinosaur’s armor and skin, preserving it in the lifelike form now on display.”
Whilst the specimen has only recently gone on display in May 2017, the fossil was found way back in 2011 by a miner who’d discovered it accidentally. It took six years to get it ready for museum display.
To put the length of this arduous task into context, researchers spent a staggering 7,000 hours not only testing the dinosaur’s remains, but preparing them so that they could be displayed at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
It’s the closest thing museum-goers have ever had to getting up close and personal with a real-life dinosaur.
The fact that the “mummy” was found accidentally is promising in itself. If one dinosaur could be found this well-preserved then it’s more than likely that there are others out there just waiting to be discovered!
I’d better start saving up for my trip to Canada…