Several years ago, paleontology graduate student Tyler Lyson, then a teenager, found an incredibly well-preserved duck-billed dinosaur on his North Dakota property. Now, a team of researchers, including Lyson, have announced details of the discovery and excavation. Amazingly, the hadrosaur, roughly 35 feet long and weighing 35 tons, was naturally "mummified." Mineralization left much of its soft tissue, bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin intact. Seen here, a bit of its scaly skin. The scientists have named the 67 million-year-old creature Dakota. From National Geographic:
"This specimen exceeds the jackpot," said excavation leader Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at Britain's University of Manchester and a National Geographic Expeditions Council grantee.
Most dinosaurs are known only from their bones, which are seldom found joined together as they would be in real life.
But "we're looking at a three-dimensional skin envelope," Manning said. "In many places it's complete and intact–around the tail, arms, and legs and part of the body."