Grave Secrets of Dinosaurs: Soft Tissues and Hard Science

Phillip Lars Manning, Author National Geographic Society $28 (316p) ISBN 978-1-4262-0219-3
In 1999, Tyler Lyson, a high school student with a passion for fossils, stumbled upon an extremely rare find, a nearly-complete dinosaur mummy; once excavated, its remarkably preserved tissue-""skin, bone, ligaments and tendons""-would give scientists their first opportunity to observe the structure and orientation of dinosaur muscles. Lyson called in University of Manchester paleontologist Manning to help extract Dakota the hadrosaur, and here Manning tells the story of the North Dakota discovery, making a detailed account of a paleontologist's day-by-day work with interesting jaunts into the history of fossil-hunting (a little-known pastime in the Wild West) from the Sternberg family in the 19th century up through the 2000 discovery of Leonardo the hadrosaur in Montana. The core of the book describes the extensive preparations and the excruciating care by which the team liberated their quarry; wrinkles along the way include the fossil of a crocodilian creature lodged in the hadrosaur's abdomen, an enormous NASA CT scanner employed to examine the mummy's interior, and intact pollen found in the dino's stomach. While work on Dakota will continue for years, Manning's description of the job so far gives readers a satisfying look at paleontology in (laborious, exacting) action.
Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 168 pages - 978-1-4262-0270-4
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