A mummified dinosaur on display in a museum in Alberta Canada is the most well-preserved in the world, and the world is ready for Jurassic Park.
Last week the Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta opened their Grounds of Discovery exhibit to the public. The exhibit contains some pretty neat fossils of your requisite saber-tooth tiger skull and sea shells the size of a toddler, but the nearly complete remains of a Nodosaur were the star of the show.
One look at the fossil photographed by Robert Clark for National Geographic, and I’m immediately imagining the havoc our spiny friend might wreak in the next Jurassic World. His ugly mug reignites childhood dreams of my own hoard of giant lizards to terrorize the neighborhood.
The nodosaurus, though, was an aquatic herbivore and not likely to chase Jeff Goldblum through the jungle. They likely grew to nearly 60 feet long and lived about 112-110 million years ago. The museum says this fossil is the most well-preserved armored dinosaur in the world.
Rapid under-water fossilization has preserved the dinosaur so well that no bones are visible beneath the armor and skin. Even the dinosaur’s last meal is preserved in its stomach. Researchers compared finding the fossil to winning the lottery. Michael Greshko, writing for National Geographic, says:
"Usually just the bones and teeth are preserved, and only rarely do minerals replace soft tissues before they rot away. There’s also no guarantee that a fossil will keep its true-to-life shape."
The fact that our friend was fossilized so quickly means that there’s even more genetic information left behind. Though fossil specimens collected by researchers shed light on dinosaur biology, dinosaur cloning is still purely science fiction.
However, the prospect excites my inner child. Since I first saw the original Jurassic Park, I’ve dreamed of my own personal army of giant reptiles. Now with a specimen so well-preserved, that dream is even closer to becoming a reality.