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Dakota, the Last Dinosaur
December 3, 2007 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Scientists find a 'mummified' Hadrosaur in North Dakota "He looks like a blow-up dinosaur in some parts," said Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at the University of Manchester in England who is leading the inquiry. "When you actually look at the detail of the skin, the scales themselves are three dimensional. . . . The arm is breathtaking. It's a three-dimensional arm, you can shake the dinosaur by the hand. It just defies logic that such a remarkable specimen could preserve."

WaPo's Gallery link

As reported in Wired, the scientists have discovered via CT scans that "the specimen's vertebrae, which museums commonly stack together, are actually spaced 10 millimeters apart. The result, Manning said, implies that scientists may have been underestimating the size of hadrosaurs and other dinosaurs."
posted by Uther Bentrazor (52 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh Christ, here come the young earth creationists.

(Excellent post, though.)
posted by LarryC at 9:56 AM on December 3, 2007


Awesome.

Though, on the vertebrae thing, it seems kind of obvious to point out that they should be spaced... I mean, every currently living thing with a spine puts some soft tissue in there, right?

Still, extremely cool.
posted by GuyZero at 10:04 AM on December 3, 2007


Fossilized skin. Very cool. I could have done with more pictures, however.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:06 AM on December 3, 2007


If I ever grow out of dinosaurs...

...no, no, I'll never grow out of dinosaurs.

*lurches around the apartment making Godzilla noises*
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


Dinos rule. The new National Geographic has a big story on dinos, focusing on the more exotic or odd-looking ones. There's a fantastic insert too, big dino poster that's going up on my kids' wall.

Thanks Uther!
posted by Mister_A at 10:21 AM on December 3, 2007


Well, I was going to pull together a post on the new dinosaur species found up in these parts, but the links were thin...so I'll piggyback on this post, which has more meat on it.

Discovery Channel

Royal Tyrrell Museum

Thanks for the post, Uther.
posted by never used baby shoes at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2007


WaPo has some really brilliant photography there. I've always wondered what the outside of a ball of plaster looked like. Oh, and people working--can't get enough pictures of unnamed nobodies looking at stuff!
posted by DU at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


I always love it when such an important and amazing discovery is made by a kid with a passion and a lot of blind luck.

It would be like me, a firearms aficionado, wandering into an antique store and coming across a .45 Luger in an old dusty case.

Fantastic.
posted by quin at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2007


"Oh Christ, here come the young earth creationists."

Haha. My first thought was "Of course it's perfectly preserved—it's only 4000 years old."
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on December 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


"When I first saw it in the field, (I thought) 'Shiiiit, that's a really well preserved dinosaur.'

Well, it's no "Eureka!", but it'll do.
posted by empath at 10:29 AM on December 3, 2007


t just defies logic that such a remarkable specimen could preserve.

That's because it's less than 6000 years old.

just kidding. it's not really.
posted by shmegegge at 10:31 AM on December 3, 2007


"Oh Christ, here come the young earth creationists."

Where is the saddle?
posted by adustum at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just hope I can be there to help eat it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:36 AM on December 3, 2007


Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!

There is no such thing as being too old to enjoy dinosaurs. Thanks for sharing this - wouldn't have seen it otherwise.
posted by cmyk at 10:41 AM on December 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: unnamed nobodies looking at stuff.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:41 AM on December 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


The young-earhers will say whatever they want. But this sound similar to the kind of preservation that happened to soft-bodied fauna at the Burgess Shale which is hundreds of millions of years older.

Dakota's a pretty amazing find. Thanks for the post!
posted by McLir at 10:44 AM on December 3, 2007


Scientists didn't find it, a cool freaking kid named Tyler did. Give him his propers.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:48 AM on December 3, 2007


Oops, I guess in my excitement I was thrown by the title of the article when writing up this post. Bummer, as "Mummified Hadrosaur discovered by highschool student" is a much better link text. Curses.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:59 AM on December 3, 2007


Tyler is now a Yale grad student and is the director of Marmarth Research Foundation in Marmarth, N.D. (so says his caption in the gallery)
posted by Pants! at 11:04 AM on December 3, 2007


Today, unearthing mummified dinosaur tissue.

Tomorrow, clever girl.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:13 AM on December 3, 2007 [14 favorites]


Neat, but, ya want eggs with that?

and

skin found in 1917

and lots more out there, too.
posted by hexatron at 11:17 AM on December 3, 2007


What do you call a coal-mining, stupid dino?

A Mino-saur Dummy!
posted by ORthey at 11:22 AM on December 3, 2007


AV, that's kind of confusing. From my read, he was in high school when he first spotted some bones, them came back to research it later. Currently, he's a doctoral student.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2007


For comparison, this is what we previously thought they looked like.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:50 PM on December 3, 2007


So. cool. Are dinosaurs ever not just fun?

(PS, cmyk kind of made my day. It doesn't take much, if it's a firefly reference...)
posted by kalimac at 12:51 PM on December 3, 2007


Although it is described as "mummified," the 65 million-year-old duckbilled dinosaur that scientists have named Dakota bears no similarity to the leather-skinned human mummies retrieved from ancient tombs in Egypt. Time long ago transformed Dakota's soft tissue into mineralized rock, preserving it for the ages.
In other words, it was fossilized? *slaps forehead* Way to go, Journalism!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:57 PM on December 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


We ran this story today in the paper I work at. On page A3, at right around eleven column inches. For a fucking mummified dinosaur The desk chief and I never seem to agree on what should be front page news. I've not been on the job all that long, but I'm sure we get far more opportunities to lead with stories about the county budget than chances to print front-page copy on a miraculously preserved ancient creature.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:11 PM on December 3, 2007


I don't mean to quibble. I just think the angle wherein this kid turned his fancy for fossil hunting around his hometown into a major find is positively charming and inspiring, and saying that the find was made by Scientists™ glazes over the human story here.

*smacks forehead for missing the firefly joke* hahaha. Mine is an evil laugh!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:12 PM on December 3, 2007


So far, they have determined that the hadrosaur's hindquarters are 25 percent larger than previously thought for the species, meaning that it could run up to 28 mph -- faster than previously estimated.

Which means the same might be true of the T-Rex. Meaning Jurassic Park's dinos might not have been scary enough.

The carcass was visited by at least one scavenger, a crocodile of the era that, Manning said, may have become stuck while feeding and died. Scientists found its preserved arm poking through Dakota's chest.

"It's a fossil within a fossil," Manning said. "We were over the moon when we found it."

Um. neat. Although it gives less hope for the head being missing.
posted by Brainy at 1:13 PM on December 3, 2007


chances to print front-page copy about a miraculously preserved ancient creature, that is.

matymex really needs to add an "edit own posts" feature.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:13 PM on December 3, 2007


Reading about this earlier... apparently dinosaurs had fatter asses than was previously thought. Which is great.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:26 PM on December 3, 2007


I am not a dinosaur.
posted by Hadroed at 1:34 PM on December 3, 2007


Argh, that’s less oil for us.
Nifty tho
posted by Smedleyman at 2:47 PM on December 3, 2007


In other words, it was fossilized? *slaps forehead* Way to go, Journalism!

Odds are the journalists knew the correct term, but opted for "mummified" because they thought "fossilized" would make the public think only of bones.
posted by zennie at 2:47 PM on December 3, 2007


"It's almost as if we've geochemically preserved this dinosaur laboratory, and we've only just unlocked the door," said geochemist Roy Wogelius of the University of Manchester.

Well, It's good to see that he chose geochemistry over creative writing.

Other than that, I thought that "ossified" would have been the better term, although that would make the public think only of bones.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:06 PM on December 3, 2007


Dinos rule.

Ruled.
posted by bwg at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2007


Dinos rule.

Ruled.


Will rule again.

This has been MetaFilter Proper Tense Theatre. *bow*
posted by Mikey-San at 4:19 PM on December 3, 2007


The 'saurs will rise again
The 'saurs will rise again
Not in 10,000 years
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:48 PM on December 3, 2007


In other words, it was fossilized? *slaps forehead* Way to go, Journalism!

Note the quotation marks around the word mummified. Quotation marks. As in they are quoting someone.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:25 PM on December 3, 2007


Will rule again.

Given that some believe dinos became birds, when bird flu wipes us all out, the birds may well rule!
posted by bwg at 7:04 PM on December 3, 2007


"Note the quotation marks around the word mummified. Quotation marks. As in they are quoting someone."

Note the snark about quotation marks. When they are actually quoting someone.

That's what "described as 'mummified'" means, and why there's an attempt to clarify for the slow.

Which doesn't seem to have helped.
posted by klangklangston at 7:27 PM on December 3, 2007


Ruled.
posted by bwg at 3:28 PM on December 3 [+] [!]


My girlfriend has some lizards that would argue with your use of the past tense. After all, I've never seen them scramble off to the store to buy her dinner.
posted by lekvar at 7:28 PM on December 3, 2007


"WaPo has some really brilliant photography there. I've always wondered what the outside of a ball of plaster looked like. Oh, and people working--can't get enough pictures of unnamed nobodies looking at stuff!"

Truly! Maybe this is a new style of photojournalism that is being taught in schools? The 'snapshot my first camera' style of photojournalism. Kind of like outsider photography.
posted by Sukiari at 7:34 PM on December 3, 2007


After all, I've never seen them scramble off to the store to buy her dinner.

That's because they don't keep her in a glass tank.
posted by bwg at 8:05 PM on December 3, 2007


Wow... incredibly small world. I knew this guy back when I was in high school and he was in junior high. Marmarth is only 40 miles down the road from my hometown; I've been out on digs around Marmarth.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:24 PM on December 3, 2007


klang, I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:16 AM on December 4, 2007


Fascinating stuff. Sorry to see that the entertainment world is showing documentaries and such before scientific research has it's go at it, but it's still amazing. I'm boggled and excited today. Thanks for the link!
posted by agregoli at 8:21 AM on December 4, 2007


"klang, I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to say."

From the article, the line is "described as 'mummified,'" and then a clarification of why this isn't mummification. These are not scare quotes, but rather likely from Manning, with the only error being the orphaning of the quote.

So, then you tried to snark, despite being wrong, to blame the journalist for what you saw as scare quotes.

I made fun of you for that, and implied that both people who needed a clarification on "mummified" and you were slow.
posted by klangklangston at 10:37 AM on December 4, 2007


Figure A:
klangklangston: From the article, the line is "described as 'mummified,'"
CitrusFreak12: Note the quotation marks around the word mummified.
Figure B:
klangklangston: These are not scare quotes, but rather likely from Manning
CitrusFreak12: As in they are quoting someone.
klangklangston: So, then you tried to snark, despite being wrong, to blame the journalist for what you saw as scare quotes."

My snark was to starvosthewonderchicken's "way to go journalism" line. I was attempting to communicate that the journalist did not arbitrarily choose the term mummified, because they were in quotation marks, meaning that someone else (likely Manning, as you said) used the term, and the journalist was quoting him. Thusly, the journalist (nor journalism as a whole) should not criticized for the apparent inaccuracy of a term a paleontologist chose to use.

In short, yes I know they aren't scare quotes, I never said they were, you appear to be countering the point I was trying to make with the exact same point, and it all seems to be just a simple misunderstanding.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:57 AM on December 4, 2007


Ah, I read yours as sarcasm and thought you were a moron. Sorry.
posted by klangklangston at 12:39 PM on December 4, 2007


I would love to see that dialog played out in real life.

what ho, good chap! I thought you were a moron! dreadfuddy soddy.

not a worry old man! I thought you were a scallywag!
posted by shmegegge at 2:01 PM on December 4, 2007


No worries. It's the internet; it happens.

And I second that sentiment, shmegegge.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 4:08 PM on December 4, 2007


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