Dinosaur with skin discovered

Sunday, July 18, 2010

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.


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