The mummified dinosaur has chunk marks and gashes on the pores and skin

Exceptionally Properly-Preserved Duck-Billed Hadrosaur Present in North Dakota Hints Dinosaur Mummies Might Be Extra Frequent Than We Assume


October 12, 2022

Reconstruction of the life of Edmontosaurus

Illustration of the Edmontosaurus dinosaur and {photograph} of the preserved forelimb

Shade reconstruction of Edmontosaurus by Natee Puttapipat, CC-BY 4.0

A 70million-year-old dinosaur retained pores and skin with gashes that recommend it was partially eaten by crocodile-like carnivores and probably different animals – which can assist clarify why it is is mummified.

Because it was torn aside, the estimated 7-meter-long duck-billed hadrosaur doubtless misplaced a lot of the bodily fluids and gases that promote decomposition, then dried out earlier than to be buried underneath a number of layers of sediment.

Stephanie Drumheller-Horton on the College of Tennessee in Knoxville, a paleontologist specializing in crocodile bites, was contacted by Clint Boyd to the North Dakota Geological Survey in Bismarck to analyze the mummified stays of a edmontosaurus dinosaur, discovered within the Hell Creek Formation of southwestern North Dakota.

The fossil was exceptionally properly preserved, with a number of gashes and punctures within the forelimbs and tail. The sequence of arc-shaped holes and scrapes on the bones and pores and skin of the arms and palms have been nearly actually attributable to crocodile-shaped tooth latching onto the hadrosaur, she stated. A set of longer V-shaped cuts within the pores and skin – significantly alongside the as soon as fleshy tail – may have been made by the claws of a a lot bigger carnivore, probably a juvenile tyrannosaurus rex.

“Anyway, the injury on the tail was bodily larger than something engaged on the arm,” says Drumheller-Horton. “So we expect we’ve got at the least two completely different animals concerned, and probably extra.”

The assaults doubtless gutted the corpse in a means that slows decomposition – a phenomenon already recognized in trendy forensic specimen evaluation. “So as an alternative of all that stuff staying contained in the physique, conserving it moist, pushing that decomposition, it is now out of the best way,” says Drumheller-Horton. “It is mainly hollowed out and in a position to dry out, and what you have left behind is pores and skin and bones.

“In honor of Halloween, I jokingly name it a skeleton in a pores and skin bag,” she says.

Even so, wound marks in delicate tissue, like pores and skin, do not essentially retain their unique form, making it more durable to determine what occurred, she says. The workforce doesn’t know if the hadrosaur was attacked by predators earlier than its loss of life or by scavengers after its loss of life – or each.

The findings overturn the notion that dinosaur mummies solely happen in distinctive circumstances of very fast burial or sudden drying, says Drumheller-Horton. Additionally they recommend that mummification will not be as uncommon as beforehand thought, as many partially eaten dinosaurs doubtless dried out earlier than being buried underneath layers of sediment.

It is extra doubtless that when scientists encounter mummified dinosaur pores and skin – which is extraordinarily skinny and fragile – they both mistake it for a easy footprint, or they by no means see it as a result of it’s unintentionally destroyed when the fossil is eliminated. sediment.

Journal reference: PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0275240

Study extra about these subjects: