It's a fascinating sight. And somehow also reassuring: Apparently we have not imagined the appearance of dinosaurs completely wrong. At least the Edmontosaurus, a dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous period that can be up to 13 meters long and about 3 meters tall, seems to have had the scaly lizard skin that has been attributed to dinosaurs since at least "the land before time". It is certainly not representative of various other representatives of its kind, some of which were feathered, but at least this dinosaur looked like a dinosaur.
The Edmontosaurus was native to America, where researchers recently made an amazing find. In the US state of North Dakota, they discovered the fossilized skin of a dinosaur for the first time. This is part of the front leg of an Edmontosaur that died around 70 million years ago. As can be seen from the remains, scavengers attacked him. Edmontosaurus itself was a peaceful herbivore. Nevertheless, part of its skin remained intact and fossilized over the millennia.
The remains of the skin were examined by a team of paleontologists led by Stephanie Drumheller from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Drumheller suspects that the flesh and muscles of the Edmontosaurus were eaten by scavengers and thus removed, but the tough skin remained. This effectively hollowed out the body of the dead dinosaur, giving the outer shell more exposure to air and allowing it to dry out more easily and later petrify. A stroke of luck – albeit one that should have happened much more often. Because there were many carrion and meat eaters back then.
Although there is now concern that fossilized skin may have often been overlooked - thanks to the discovery in North Dakota, the researchers are now sensitized and aware of the possibility that such exciting finds can even exist. We will probably be able to learn a lot of new things about dinosaurs in the coming years.