Jun
23
2006

Fossilized dinosaur mummy gets X-rayed

Dinosaur body found

Imagine how much we could learn if instead of only bones, we could find a dinosaur body. Nate Murphy, curator of paleontology at the Judith River Dinosaur Institute, along with 20 experts in various fields are X-raying and photographing a dinosaur named Leonardo this week. In October, Murphy plans to present his findings at a medical imaging conference in Houston.
Leonardo is a 77-million-year-old fossilized mummy of a duck billed dinosaur known as a brachylophosaur. Since the mummy is now stone, it had to be removed in one, world record sized, 6.5 ton chunk. Leonardo's stomach contents are so well-preserved that researchers can tell what he had for his last supper; a salad of ferns, conifers, and magnolias. The stomach also contained the pollen of more than 40 different plants. The scientific work on Leonardo will keep paleontologists occupied for years. Murphy hopes the studies will build interest and funding for more tests — particularly CT scans that could take three-dimensional images instead of the one-dimensional pictures captured in the X-rays this week.

X-rays show more than just bones.

Until now, the technology didn't exist to look at what was inside of Leonardo. Over the next 20 months, the Discovery Channel is filming how non-destructive x-rays combined with imaging technology from Eastman Kodak that is 10 times as sensitive as film, and a computer that sifts through the layers of data will reveal skin and bone and Leonardo's insides. Here is a Discovery Channel video about Leonardo.

See an X-ray of our mummy.

Here at the Science Museum of Minnesota we used X-ray imaging to look inside our mummy. You can see where the heart has been relocated. Our mummy is in Collections Gallery on the fourth floor.

Sources: National Geographic; Great Falls Tribune

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

why is this only being done now when he was discovered in 2002?

posted on Tue, 01/23/2007 - 4:33pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

Most fossils are found encased in stone. (This dinosaur apparently was embedded in six-and-a-half TONS of rock.) It takes a log time to remove all the excess material. This has to be done very carefully, so as not to damage the fossil.

posted on Tue, 01/23/2007 - 5:08pm

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