''Mummified'' Dinosaur Unveiled

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Field paleontologists drill under a mummified dinosaur's ten-ton body block, now separated from its tail.

The remarkably preserved muscle and skin tissue of the 67-million-year-old dino, dubbed Dakota, were recently revealed by British paleontologist Phillip Manning, also a National Geographic Expeditions Council grantee.

The odds of such an intact dinosaur being found are extremely slim, Manning said. The dinosaur body must have somehow escaped predators, scavengers, and degradation by weather and rivers, he said.

What's more, a chemical process must mineralize the tissue before bacteria eat it, and then the fossil must withstand the test of geologic time.

"What usually would have been wiped out by the decay processthe mineralization [of Dakota's body] has been so rapid that it is trapped and preserved," Manning said.

The discovery, excavation, and analysis of the mummified dinosaur is featured in Dino Autopsy, which will premier on December 9 at 9 p.m. EST/10 p.m. PT on the National Geographic Channel.

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—Photograph by Dr. Phillip Manning ) 2007 National Geographic
 
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