67-Million-Year-Old Mummified Dinosaur Has Bite Mark From Ancient Crocodile

by Tia Bailey
Photo by Mark Wilson/Newsmakers

A mummified dinosaur has revealed something interesting. The 67-million-year-old dino has a bite mark from an ancient crocodile.

The dinosaur, a 23-foot-long Edmontosaurus, was found in 1999. It was discovered near Marmarth, North Dakota. According to CNN, new research has allowed scientists to find out what has made the skin survive so long. Additionally, it may have to do with bite marks and gashes left by an ancient crocodile.

Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, a paleontologist at The University of Tennessee’s department of Earth and planetary sciences, is a co-author of the new study.

“The bite marks were really unexpected. It had been thought that soft tissue wouldn’t preserve if it was damaged prior to burial, so the carnivore damage is what really started us thinking about how these fossils form in the first place,” she said to CNN.

The team came to the conclusion that the unfortunate attack is actually what allowed the Edmontosaurus’ skin to be preserved.

“To try to put it in the least disgusting way possible – puncturing the skin allowed the gases and liquids associated with later decomposition to escape. That left the hollowed-out skin behind to dry out. Naturally mummified skin like this can last for weeks to months in even fairly wet environments, and the longer it lasts, the more likely it is to be buried and undergo fossilization,” Drumheller-Horton said.

This drawing depicts how they believe the dinosaur died from the attack.

Scientists Remove Mummified Dinosaur From Rocks in Time-Lapse Video

As rare as it is to find a dino with skin, a team in Canada found one. The team who uncovered it made up of University of New England and the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller paleontologists, found the dino with its skin intact at the Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada.

The team took a really interesting time-lapse video of themselves uncovering the specimen.

Although they only initially found a foot and tail, the team believes that a “near-complete” skeleton is still underground. And, they believe the majority of the creature still has its skin.

The lead researcher of the team, Caleb Brown, further shared the rarity of finding a dino with its skin still intact.

“Finding dinosaur skin is rare, but is more common for some types of dinosaurs than others. Duck-billed dinosaurs (hadrosaurs) are one group of dinosaurs where skin is most commonly preserved,” he said. “This skin is often preserved as a few small fragments or chunks that are associated with the skeleton.”

Because of this, it is much more common to find skeletons in which the rest of the body has decomposed. It really is quite rare to find a dino with skin.

“When we are really lucky, we find a skeleton which is nearly entirely covered in skin,” Brown said. “Over the past 120 years, several hadrosaurs with skin have been found in Dinosaur Provincial Park.”