'Mummified' Dinosaur Body Unearthed
'Breathtaking' rare find reveals well-preserved soft tissue, skin
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2007 10:05 AM CST
This undated handout photo provided by the National Geographic Society shows the scale of the fossilized skin of a duckbilled hadrosaur found in 1999 in North Dakota. Soft parts of dead animals normally...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A remarkably well-preserved hadrosaur discovered in North Dakota offers valuable clues about the appearance of dinosaurs, paleontologists say. Soft tissue such as skin and muscle were effectively "mummified" after the dinosaur died near a river, the Washington Post reports. "It's a dinosaur that was turned into stone, essentially," says the grad student who discovered it when he was in high school.

The creature, dubbed "Dakota," was preserved when wet sand swamped its carcass and minerals swiftly replaced its body before decay set in. It's already yielding information about the structure of the hadrosaur's skin and the size of its hindquarters even as it sparks controversy: Critics object to the release of a National Geographic Channel documentary before the peer-review publication process is complete.