Scientists may have just discovered the most intact dinosaur specimen ever. This nodosaur dinosaur specimen was so well-preserved that the researchers opted not to call it a fossil but a "dinosaur mummy."
Even though the creature died some 110 million years ago, its skin, bones, and other parts are almost as they were when the dinosaur was alive.
The discovery was made by the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada.
In addition to the skin and armor, some of the animal's guts are also intact. Scientists are surprised at how well-preserved the creature was.
Caleb Brown, a researcher at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, spoke more about the astounding discovery:
"We don't just have a skeleton. We have a dinosaur as it would have been."
The "mummy" was discovered by miners in Alberta, Canada.
Nodosaur, The Species To Which This Dinosaur Belongs, Is A Recent Discovery
The nodosaur was a giant four-legged, plant-eating animal with a spiky and plated armor.
Scientists believe that it weighed about 3,000 pounds. Unbelievably, this discovery was so well-preserved that the "mummy" weighed 2,500 pounds.
How nature managed to accomplish this feat is probably a bigger mystery than the creature itself.
Some reports suggest that the nodosaur may have been carried in a flooding river to the sea. While there, it sank to the ocean floor, and with the passage of years, minerals took the place of its armor and skin and preserved it.
This might help explain why it is still so lifelike today. The discovery was in such a good shape that researchers could even tell the creature's color with scientific certainty.
With the use of advanced techniques, scientists found out the pigments on the scales of the dinosaur. The top side had a dark reddish-brown color, while the underside was lighter.
Researchers believe the colors are a form of countershading, which is a way of achieving camouflage using two-color tones to avoid predators. At the time, huge carnivores that preyed on such creatures likely existed, and the camouflage certainly helped the creature stay alive.
According to Brown:
"Strong predation on a massive, heavily-armored dinosaur illustrates just how dangerous the dinosaur predators of the Cretaceous must have been."
Original Shape Still Retained
Although the manner in which the dinosaur's skin, armor, and guts were preserved is pretty impressive, the fact that the animal was preserved in all three dimensions is also quite noteworthy.
The animal's original shape was retained, and the use of simulations was not necessary to create a model of what the animal looked like when alive. In fact, Brown called the discovery the Mona Lisa of dinosaurs:
"It will go down in science history as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved dinosaur specimens — the Mona Lisa of dinosaurs."
However, despite the fact that the dinosaur was so well-preserved, moving it to the current display was not an easy task.
In fact, after it was first discovered in 2011 accidentally by a heavy machine operator, it has taken 7,000 hours spread over 6 years to have the remains extracted, tested, and displayed at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
And so, today, you can finally look at a display that is as close to the real nodosaur dinosaurs as it gets.