Recently Discovered Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Is So Well-Preserved It Even Has The Skin And Guts Intact


“We don’t just have a skeleton,” one researcher involved said. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”

Nodosaur: highlight of the dino exhibit at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada. Robert Clark/National Geographic

Scientists are hailing it as the best-preserved dinosaur specimen ever discovered. That’s why you cannot see its bones – they remain covered by intact skin and armor.

Found accidentally by miners in Canada, this fossilized nodosaur is more than 110 million years old, yet patterns are still visible on the skin. According to the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada, which recently unveiled the find, the dinosaur is so well-preserved that instead of a ‘fossil’, we could safely call it a ‘dinosaur mummy.’

The holotype of Borealopelta on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. Image credit: ケラトプスユウタ

The researchers examining the find were astounded at its nearly unprecedented level of preservation. The creature’s skin, armor, and even some of its guts were intact – something they’d never seen before.

“You don’t need to use much imagination to reconstruct it; if you just squint your eyes a bit, you could almost believe it was sleeping,” one researcher said.

Previously, only nodosaur skeletons have been discovered, which look like this:

Nodosaur bones at Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land, Fort Bend Co., Texas. Image credit: fossilmike

This dinosaur was built like a tank. A member of a newly discovered species called nodosaur, it was an enormous four-legged herbivore protected by a spiky, plated armor. It weighed approximately 3,000 pounds.

To give you an idea of how intact the mummified nodosaur is: it still weighs 2,500 pounds!

Nodosaur (armoured dinosaur) fossil discovered at the Suncor Mine near Fort McMurray by Government of Alberta

Although how the dinosaur mummy could remain so intact for so long remains somewhat of a mystery, researchers suggest that the nodosaur may have been swept away by a flooded river and carried out to sea, where it eventually sank to the ocean floor.

As millions of years passed, minerals could have settled on the dinosaur’s armor and skin. This might help explain why the creature was preserved in such a lifelike form.

Researchers have named the 5.5 metre (18-foot-long) nodosaur Borealopelta markmitchelli, in honour of Royal Tyrrell Museum technician Mark Mitchell, who spent over 7,000 hours carefully unearthing the fossil from its rocky grave.

Technician Mark Mitchell prepping the Nodosaur. Royal Tyrrell Museum

But how ‘lifelike’ is the specimen really? Well, apparently the preservation was so good that researchers were able to tell the dinosaur’s skin color by using mass spectrometry techniques to detect the actual pigments.

This way they found out that the nodosaur’s coloring was a dark reddish brown on the top of the body – and lighter on the underside. Since this dinosaur was an herbivore, its skin color must have played a role in protecting it from the enormous carnivores present at the time.

And the fact that we’re talking about a massive, heavily-armored dinosaur illustrates just how dangerous those predators must have been…

Robert Clark/National Geographic

The nodosaur was found by an unsuspecting excavator operator that uncovered the historic discovery while digging in an oil sands mine, according to the museum’s news release about the exhibit. 7,000 painstaking reconstruction hours later, the nodosaur was ready to meet the public.

As if the preservation of skin, armor, and guts weren’t impressive enough, the dinosaur mummy is also unique in that it was preserved in three dimensions, with the original shape of the animal retained.

A National Geographic video about the nodosaur, the best-preserved dinosaur ever discovered.

According to one researcher, “it will go down in science history as one of the most beautiful and best preserved dinosaur specimens – the Mona Lisa of dinosaurs.”

Robert Clark/National Geographic

The Mona Lisa of dinosaurs… It is indeed, isn’t it?

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

86 COMMENTS

  1. Evolution is a THEORY, not a fact! Darwin denounced it before he died. Scientists can’t because it would cost millions to change all the highway signs, museum signs, text books, etc. All because of their ‘mistakes’. That is a LOT of egg on your faces…

    • That’s actually a myth. Darwin’s children said he never reverted back to Christianity nor denounced evolution on his death bed.
      Enjoy your omelette.

    • Scientific theories are facts.

      Colloquial theory and scientific theory are two different things.

      If you don’t believe in evolution, you better stay away from modern medicine, as everything to do with biology hinges on the fact that evolution is true.

        • On the contrary, a theory holds up if it fails to be disproven. A theory has to hold up against attempts to falsify. Otherwise any theory that fits the data would be taken as fact.

      • There are facts that support theories, and when a theory is 100% proven is no longer a theory but a fact, so a theory is not itself a fact.
        Christianity have ZERO facts.

        • Evolution is a fantasy religion not based on real science!
          It is easily proved a lie by the known laws of nature that they even tell you in books on evution!
          It is a fact that according to science every major mutation in nature is sterile and cannot reproduce.
          So any evolution cannot happen if it cannot reproduce itself.
          Also according to the second law of thermodynamics, all nature goes from more complex to less complex state.
          So nature left to itself naturally evolves to a lower state not more highly evolved state.

    • A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can be repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaluation of results.

      Other scientific theories include the theory of gravity, plate tectonic theory, and the theory of relativity (which includes the math that makes GPS satellites work).

    • Wow, you have to pretend to know nothing about biology to believe that. Bacteria and viruses are definitive proof the evolution is a fact. Darwin never retracted his theories, that’s BS made up by Christian anti science warriors. Apparently with enough $$$ and tv exposure, you can convince non critical thinkers of anything.

    • 1. Obviously a troll. Is this y’all’s first time on the Internet?

      2. Who would try and troll an article about dinosaurs? Well, successfully troll. Think I answered my own question.

    • I’m also a Christian and feel inclined to point out that gravity is also a scientific theory, so …. It’s important to note that “science” never lands on absolute truth. I personally don’t have a stance on evolution. I also would appreciate it if scientists didn’t try to “prove” religion false, it’s not really their realm of expertise, and much of what theology purports as true is not even subject to scientific method. Here’s a great speech about why it’s really quite foolish to try and prove religion wrong as a scientist:
      https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/christian-smith/why-scientists-playing-amateur-atheology-fail/

  2. I find it doubtful DNA could be extracted to make a clone as all organic matter has been replaced by stone. Perhaps petrified would be a more accurate word than mummified. You could no more make a clone of this creature than you could clone a tree from petrified wood. But I do share the excitement of the idea of a living breathing dinosaur!

  3. Nodosaur was found at Suncor mine at Fort Mcmurray Alberta.It was in good condition because it somehow washed out a river to the Pacific ocean settling on the ocean floor to be covered with sediment. Their words not mine. It was found far inland but was in the ocean??? No do saur

    • Yes, there are definitely no large rivers that lead to the Pacific Ocean. Certainly not the Yangtze, the Mekong, the Yellow…

    • well…its 100,000,000 years old. The continents we know were just separating from the supercontinent Pangea. As the tektonic plates shift they also warp and ripple. Parts of the ocean floor rise up to become land and parts of land sink and become ocean. At one point, the majority of Canada was at the bottom of the ocean.

    • Not the Pacific Ocean. The Great Western Inland Sea. Alberta didn’t look like it does today when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

  4. If? Or? You call this proof? It’s a fantasy story you made up in your head.
    Leave paleontology to the professionals and keep your fiction to yourself.

  5. It’s a good made up replica. I think all dinosaurs that have been found are just made up so the museums & the archeologists can get their name famous & keep getting funding for their “jobs”.

  6. Oh, wonderful. You grab an exception and make it the norm. What about all the other millions of dinosaur specimens that are just fossilized bones? What about all those animals and plants found in certain strata and not others? What about extinction or new species? Even if evolution were somehow wrong, extinction and speciation, natural selection would continue to be FACT. Creationism and the deluge that somehow is included in the mix is mythology.

  7. It weighed 3000 pounds, it would have sank to depths too deep and too cold to be eaten. That’s how things get fossilized. Take a science course or two. Lay off the Bible just a bit. There are other books out there. Newer and better ones even. Obsessivly re-reading the same book over and over and over is a bit insane.

  8. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve seen all day. Maybe all week, which is a lot with those anti-vaxxers and corona conspiracy theories popping up.

    • There have been human remains left in a similar state. The bog bodies. These were people that were killed and their bodies disposed of in bogs. Several were found in Denmark. Lack of oxygen in the bogs preserved them. The oldest is about 10,000 years old.

    • The Bible, and Revelations specifically speak about some problems that John and the congregations he corresponded with had with the Romans and other peoples in the Roman Empire about 1950 years ago. The language is so cryptic or so general so as to mean literally anything and nothing. A flu epidemic is hardly the apocalypse. Try 1939. It wasn’t the apocalypse either. When will you give up?

    • Exactly what I say. Sounds like it was quickly covered and mummified, like the fountains of the deep erupted and it got covered quickly and preserved.

        • sometimes it hurts peoples brains to think that anything other than humans ruled this earth at some point in time, so they just refuse to belive it… these people are called “closed-minded” . being close minded is a very bad trait. if it werent for the “open minded” people like einstein and galileo we would still be in the prehistoric period like this lady. SMH think outside the box for once in your life and then you might be able to understand that the earth has been here for billions and billions of years and there were many different civilizations that ran this earth besides humans!

      • If that had happened it would not be intact to study. Quick, violent events like that don’t mummify things, they destroy them. Thousands of years ago would be close enough that we would also have actual evidence of the event for it to do that, too, and we don’t.

        • The mummies at Pompeii — who died in a sudden, violent volcanic eruption– would disagree with the idea that things can’t be preserved like that.

          • The ‘bodies’ at Pompeii aren’t mummies. The dead bodies decomposed and created cavities in the volcanic pumice and ash, which people poured plaster in to create the ‘bodies’ we can now see.

    • It’s fossilized entirely or to a degree. If it weren’t millions of years old, it would be an organic mummy like the ones we have from mummified humans, or Megatherium, or Mammoths.

    • Lorenzo Luis Albano you are correct although you couldn’t convince those who think they already know everything.There is so much information in the world that is being hidden and kept secret from the public like real dinosaurs aren’t all as old as the so called experts would have you believe.Man has lived with and beside the dinosaurs but they don’t want you knowing that.There are cave paintings and carvings with man standing with the dinosaurs and just how do you think that’s possible if they dies out millions of years ago.And how could man paint or carve something like that if he has never seen such creatures.It’s not like they just dreamed of them one day and decided to paint or care something they dreamed of.They did it simply because they lived side by side.They call this forbidden knowledge just like the giants that once walked the earth along side of man.One can only wonder why they think it’s so important to keep this knowledge so secret.But like the ole saying goes he who controls the knowledge controls the world.

      • Or… since there is no reason to hide the knowledge, maybe it is just simply as true to the point that science can currently estimate.

        Anytime I hear “they” are hiding the truth from you I have to roll my eyes. There need not be a giant conspiracy for everything.

      • …and for what reason is there to hide the knowledge? There’s no conspiracy – the universe is just a lot more complicated than your mommy and daddy led you to believe.

      • Often enough these “dinosaur cave paintings” are just existing ones with additions made to them in chalk, or purposefully misread paintings of creatures that actually existed at the time. Also, though this less the reason why you are wrong in general and more just another thing you are wrong about, humans most certainly could have painted and carved depictions of creatures that they had never seen. It’s called imagination. People do it now, people did it thousands of years ago when they portrayed mythological creatures, and I doubt the ones that made the cave paintings were incapable of it.

  9. Good grief! This dinosaur lived 110 million years ago! That’s approximately 109,997,000 before Jesus walked the Earth, and 100,000,000 years before the earliest humans! Creationism is made up.

  10. This is absolutely amazing, me being the dinosaur nerd that I am this totally peaked my interest and brightened my day

    • Kimberly, you can believe anything you want. That is why I live in this country. Sorry to say that the “Great Flood” did not occur at the correct time frame. but nice to keep the dream alive. As for being covered by sediment, well, I could give you a dozen ways for that to happen. Let’s just agree to disagree. Smile.

    • Funny how those without a REAL response always resort to laughter or belittling. Thanks for staying true to your kind!

    • They’ve confirmed that it’s pretty much impossible. It’s in the best condition that we’ve found, but even that isn’t good enough to allow us to get DNA.

    • A perfectly preserved DNA sample could theoretically last about 6.8 million years, by the most recent studies available. This is sadly much too recent for dinosaurs, but might allow cloning some extinct prehistoric species like saber-tooth tigers if a perfect sample is ever found.

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