Sunday, April 29, 2007

Dinosaur skin!

This week there were reports about a fossilized dinosaur skin found in Japan. This is not the first time dinosaur skin impressions have been found preserved on rocks, the most famous being a fossil often referred to as "Leonardo the mummy dinosaur," a hadrosaur which has been a paleontological celebrity for many years now. Leonardo's fossilized skeleton was covered in soft tissue—skin, scales, muscle, foot pads—and even the remains of the meal that was in his stomach when he died.

The new find is thought to be from the leg of an herbivorous dinosaur--there is still controversy over the exact species, but some Japanese researchers have speculated that it could be Fukuisaurus. The impressions show polygonal scales about 4 mm in diameter, similar to the pattern seen on Leonardo. It dates back to 120 million years, to the early Cretaceous, a time when Fukuisaurus and other hadrosaurs areknown to have been abundant.