Found perfectly preserved with its scaly armour and guts stɪʟʟ intact, the 110mɪʟʟion-year-old fossil has been touted as the “best preserved dinosaur on Earth”.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada recently unveiled a dinosaur so well-preserved that many have taken to calling it not a fossil, but an honest-to-goodness “dinosaur mummy.”
With the creature’s skin, armor, and even some of its guts intact, researchers are astounded at its nearly unprecedented level of preservation.
“We don’t just have a sᴋᴇʟᴇᴛᴏɴ,” Caleb Brown, a researcher at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, told National Geographic. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”
The enormous plant-eating beast was 18ft long and weighed as much as a small car. When this dinosaur — a member of a newly discovered species called nodosaur — was alive, it was an enormous four-legged herbivore protected by a spiky, plated armor and weighed in at approximately 3,000 pounds.
Today, the ᴍᴜᴍᴍɪfɪᴇᴅ nodosaur is so intact that it stɪʟʟ weighs 2,500 pounds.
It’s believed the huge beast drowned when it was swept out to sea during heavy flooding.
The dinosaur is so well preserved that it “might have been walking around a couple of weeks ago,” Jakob Vinther, a scientist from the University of Bristol, told National Geographic in 2017.
A Canadian heavy equipment operator discovered the stunning fossilised remains at a mine in Alberta, Western Canada.
It was then carefully dug out of the ground and handed over to scientists, who ᴘᴀɪɴstakingly exposed the beast’s remains.
It was so pristine that scientists were able to study remnants of the skin that covered its bumpy armour plates.
Analysis of other fossils has shown that most dinosaurs had scaly skin, although some species including the vicious velociraptor, made famous in Jurassic Park, are believed to have sported feathers.
The 1.4-ton, plant-eating nodosaur is believed to have walked the Earth between 110 mɪʟʟion and 112 mɪʟʟion years ago.
Two 20-inch-long spikes stuck out of its shoulder, allowing it to defend itself against predators.
Although it’s not clear whether the size of these spikes affected the beast’s attractiveness to the opposite s.e.x, it’s thought that the combo of armour and barb was a key part of its mating ritual.
“This armour was clearly providing protection, but those eʟᴀʙᴏʀated horns on the front of its body would have been almost like a bɪʟʟboard,” Dr Vinther said.
Chemical tests have revealed traces of the dinosaur’s pigment, leading scientists to suggest it was a reddish colour with lighter horns.
The monster’s armour and natural weapons would have served the dual purpose of scaring enemies and attracting mates.
It may have used its spikes during battles to win the affection of a member of the opposite s.e.x.
Normally, dinosaurs’ armour is ruined during the process of decay and fossilisation.
But the nodosaur’s bony plates and the scales between them have remained relatively intact.
Sheaths made of keratin – the substance human fingernails are made from – stɪʟʟ coat the plates, which are called osteoderms.
These sheaths made the dinosaur look more sᴄᴀʀʏ and imposing by exaggerating the extent of its armour.
“I’ve been calling this one the Rosetta stone for armour,” added Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.
The body of the nodosaur is thought to have washed up in a river, before being swept out to sea where its sunk into the mud
Here it was encased in minerals which allowed its shape to be preserved whilst layers of rock covered it over mɪʟʟions of years.
Now, the fossilised dinosaur is on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, so punters can decide for themselves whether this scaly beast’s spikes and armour made it a lover – or a fɪɢʜᴛᴇʀ.
In other news, a 6.5-foot thigh bone belonging to the “world’s biggest dinosaur” was recently found in France.
Earlier this year, palaeontologists uncovered a feathered flying dinosaur with long fingers and wings like a bat.
The first feather fossil ever found was linked to the ‘wrong bird’ for 150 years, but really belongs to mystery dinosaur.
What do you think of the dinosaur mummy? Let us know in the comments!