WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Geographic
Channel uncovers the Holy Grail of palaeontology in the United States: a
partially intact dino mummy. Named Dakota, this 67-million-year-old
dinosaur is one of the most important dinosaur discoveries in recent times
-- calling into question our conception of dinosaurs' body shape, skin
preservation and movement.
On Sunday, December 9, at 9 p.m. ET/10 p.m. PT, Dino Autopsy joins top
palaeontologists in the United States as they uncover the rocky tomb of one
of the most complete dino mummies ever found. Whereas most of our
understanding of dinosaurs is based on fossilized skeletal remains, this
specimen includes an uncollapsed skin envelope on many parts of the body
and limbs that offers a degree of insight impossible from just bone
structure. With the use of a giant CT scanner provided by the Boeing
Company, scientists attempt to peer inside this preserved body and tail in
one of the largest CT scans ever attempted. Will this dino mummy alter our
conception of dinosaurs' body shape, skin texture and movement? And how was
this dinosaur astonishingly preserved?
"It is quite fair to say that our dinosaur mummy [Dakota] makes many
other dinosaurs look like road kill. Simply because the evidence we're
getting from our creature is so complete compared to the disjointed sort of
skeletons that we usually have to draw conclusions from," said Dr. Phillip
Manning, palaeontologist, the University of Manchester.
Nearly everything we know of dinosaurs comes from bones and teeth,
usually the only tissue durable enough to fossilize. But unlike most
previous fossil finds, Dakota has survived millions of years nearly intact,
with fossilized skin and tendons, allowing us to reconstruct major muscle
sizes, and with many body parts in place, offering a tantalizing glimpse of
a 3-D dinosaur.
Hear the story of the discovery of Dakota by teenaged Tyler Lyson on
his family's land in North Dakota. And then join palaeontologist Dr. Phil
Manning and his team of scientists from the University of Manchester,
working with Tyler and his team of volunteers as they struggle to unearth
the tomb, bringing us closer to understanding how this dinosaur really
looked and moved and whose fossil remains survived through the sands of
Dakota is first transported to the Black Hills Institute in the United
States, where he is revealed to be a Hadrosaur, more commonly called a
duck-billed dinosaur. A team of scientists in the United Kingdom then test
skin samples, examining the fossilized skin to determine how Dakota might
have looked and measuring muscle mass to determine how he might have moved.
With the aid of a giant Boeing CT scanner, we attempt to peer inside
Dakota's preserved body and tail. A technology usually reserved for testing
aircraft and spacecraft parts for NASA, a scan of the 8,000-lb. body will
be one of the largest ever attempted. What will the scans reveal? Could
they change our understanding of Hadrosaurs forever?
In fact, Dakota may contribute some significant findings to the field
of palaeontology, altering our comprehension of how dinosaurs looked and
moved. The Hadrosaur's backside appears to be 25 percent larger than
previously thought; a surprising conclusion that could change our image of
the dinosaur for the last 150 years. With a larger backside, the Hadrosaur
would have been able to reach top speeds of 45 kilometers an hour - 16
kilometers faster than the T. Rex. The skin envelope also shows evidence
that the Hadrosaur may have been striped and not block colored, producing
an almost striped camouflage pattern on some parts of the dinosaur.
With its body so well preserved, researchers are able to more
accurately estimate the spacing between vertebrae. While most museums, have
the dinosaur bones stacked tightly against each other, Dr. Manning's
research suggests that the vertebrae should be stacked approximately one
centimeter apart. This could mean that some dinosaurs are at least one
meter longer than previously thought.
The National Geographic Society partly funded analysis of the mummified
dinosaur, including the CT scanning of the fossil. Scientific papers based
on study of the dinosaur are in progress.
Accompanying the release of Dino Autopsy is an adult book, "Grave
Secrets of Dinosaurs: Soft Tissues and Hard Science," by Dr. Phillip
Manning, published by National Geographic Books; and a children's book,
"DinoMummy: The Life, Death, and Discovery of Dakota, a Dinosaur From Hell
Creek," authored by Manning with an introduction by Tyler Lyson, available
in bookstores December 4 from Kingfisher.
Dino Autopsy is produced by National Geographic Television (NGT) for
National Geographic Channel. Producer and writer is Chad Cohen. Additional
producers are Jenny Kubo and French Horwitz. Editors are Emmanuel Mairesse
and Mike Harvey. For NGC, executive producer is Noah Morowitz, and senior
vice president of special programming is Michael Cascio.
For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com/dinosaurs or
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington,
D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between
National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since
launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest
distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest
ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary
January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD which provides the spectacular
imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high-definition.
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SOURCE National Geographic Channel