Fantastically Preserved Fossil of Extinct ‘Nodosaur’ Dinosaur Seems like it’s Sleeping

By | May 14, 2017 11:10 PM EDT
Perfectly preserved

Nodosaur "asleep."(Photo : Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology)

The mummified fossil of an extinct dinosaur called a "nodosaur" that lived 110 million years ago is being hailed as the "best preserved" dinosaur of its kind, with visible skin and armor from snout to hips.

This incredibly preserved fossil, which is some six meters long and weighs about 1,110 kg (2,500 lbs), is now on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada. It was discovered in an oil sands mine in Canada in 2011.

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The nodosaur, which is a plant-eating horned dinosaur, is covered in fossilized skin and is "encased in intact body armor," said the museum.

"We don't just have a skeleton," said Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology.

"We have a dinosaur as it would have been."

Researchers say the nodosaur fossil is remarkable. This species of nodosaur has never before been discovered. It's also the oldest dinosaur ever found in Alberta.

Its preserved skin and gut contents are also providing invaluable clues on these extinct creatures.

"I've been calling this one the Rosetta Stone for armor," said Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

"It's basically a dinosaur mummy.  It really is exceptional."

Researchers have spent more than 7,000 hours over the past five chiseling away at the fossil's surrounding rock to expose the creature.

Scientists said nodosaurs were herbivores that walked on four legs. Nodosaurs were covered in tank-like armor and dotted with spikes for protection, much like the stegosaurus.

The museum worked with the National Geographic Society in researching the new nodosaur, which is featured in the June issue of National Geographic magazine.

Nodosauridae is a family of ankylosaurian dinosaurs from the Late Jurassic to the Late Cretaceous Period in what are now North America, Europe, Asia and Antarctica.

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