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Blue Babe the Bison
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DINOSAUR MUMMIES
Dakota the Hadrosaur 
Dinosaur Mummy #1
Dinosaur Mummy #2
Dinosaur Mummy #3
Leonardo the Brachylophosaurus
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Dinosaur Mummy #1
Scipionyx samniticus with preserved soft tissue

 

 

    Where it was found

A dinosaur fossil with part of the soft tissue intact (which makes it a kind of accidental dinosaur mummy) was found in 1981 by Giovanni Todesco, an amateur scientist, near Naples, Italy. Todesco thought it was an unimportant find. In 1992 he showed it to two Italian paleontologists who identified it as an unusual (and small) Italian dinosaur. In 1998, the discovery was trumpeted on the cover of Nature.

 

     What does it look like
Image:Scipionyx samniticus.JPG Image:Scipionyx model.jpg

Pictured above are the fossil of the Scipionyx samniticus and a model of what the dinosaur would have looked like.

 

     How many exist

Scientists believe that only two dinosaur fossils with soft tissue have ever been discovered before this one. Since then, a handful of others have been unearthed.

 

     What's special about the dinosaur mummy

The intestines, the colon, the liver, some muscles, and the windpipe are intact. Though fossilized, they allow scientists to study the anatomy of the dinosaur as if it were truly a mummy with soft tissue.

Up to now, most scientists have believed that dinosaurs were (1) warm-blooded and (2) related to birds. But the dinosaur mummy has begun to change all that.

The fossilized mummy (a type of therapod named Scipionyx samniticus) reveals a great deal of information when seen under an ultraviolet light (which highlights the internal organs). The colon glows bright yellow under the ultraviolet light and is placed very close to the spine, similar to modern crocodiles. For this reason and others (the breathing system also seems quite similar to the crocodile, although the lungs were not preserved in the fossil), some scientists now wonder if this dinosaur and other therapods like the Tyrannosaurus rex were cold-blooded.

On the other hand, other scientists aren't ready to give up that idea (based on one dinosaur mummy) that dinosaurs are more closely related to birds.  They wonder if birds could have evolved from crocodiles which evolved from dinosaurs. (New York Times, p. D5 1/26/99 and The Oregonian, pp. D11-12, 1/26/99)

 

     Where to find more info 

Today the fossil is exhibited at the Museo civico di storia naturale in Milan, Italy. 

Dinosaur Mummies: Beyond Bare-Bone Fossils by Kelly Milner Halls takes the reader on a chronological tour of various dinosaur mummy discoveries, starting with the 1908 discovery of the Sternberg mummies. She moves on to other fossilized discoveries, including the baby dinosaur in Italy. Highly readable and highly recommended for kids.

Information on other dinosaur and dinosaur mummy books

 

 

 

 

 

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