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Workers Uncovering Mummified Dinosaur
Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, North Dakota
Using tiny brushes and chisels, workers picking at a big greenish-black rock in the basement of North Dakota's state museum are meticulously uncovering something amazing: a nearly complete dinosaur, skin and all.
Unlike almost every other dinosaur fossil ever found, the Edmontosaurus named Dakota—a duckbilled dinosaur found in southwestern North Dakota in 1999 and announced to the public last December —is covered by fossilized skin that is hard as iron.
It's among just a few mummified dinosaurs in the world, say the researchers who are slowly freeing it from a 65-million-year-old rock tomb.
"This is the closest many people will ever get to seeing what large parts of a dinosaur actually looked like, in the flesh," said Phillip Manning, a paleontologist at Manchester University in England, a member of the international team researching Dakota and a National Geographic Expeditions Council grantee.
"This is not the usual disjointed sentence or fragment of a word that the fossil records offer up as evidence of past life," Manning said. "This is a full chapter."