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Meet Leonardo the Dinosaur Mummy!

Find out what this mummified dino tells us about how these creatures lived

March 2014

The closest thing most of us have experienced to a real dinosaur is the bones left behind and pieced together like a puzzle. At The Children's Museum, we can now see how a fossilized brain tumor looks that was found in a Gorgosaur and learn how that may have caused him to fall and break bones.

Soon, we will get to see a dinosaur that has fossilized muscles, tendons and skin impressions and discover all kinds of things that were never known before Leonardo, the mummified dinosaur, was uncovered. This fossil contains clues that tell us for certain all kinds of information that we've only been able to imagine until now – like he may have had a lot of gas because of what he ate. Shhhh!

There have only been five mummified dinosaurs ever identified. And out of all of them, Leonardo is the most complete and is even listed in the Guinness World Book for Records as having the best preserved dinosaur remains in the world.

Because he is so complete, Leonardo's body helps us better understand what a living duckbill dinosaur really looked like, along with his anatomy, diet, skin texture and habitat. His mummified skin and muscle help us understand that duckbills had smooth stomach skin and tough skin on the front and back legs to help protect their bodies from rough plants. The crisscross tendon pattern along his back confirms that duckbills held their tails up off the ground.

Before scientists found Leonardo, they studied fossil teeth to learn more about what dinosaurs consumed. We knew this kind of dino had a lot of teeth that acted like hedge trimmers or huge scissors to chew up all the plants we assumed he ate. Now, we see Leonardo's food preserved in his stomach so scientists can tell us what he had for his last meal. That helps us know what his prehistoric world looked like complete with magnolia, pine and ferns.

Leonardo will soon make his home in Dinosphere, next to the Paleo Prep Lab on March 8th, 2014. Children and families will learn what a natural mummy is, explore a stomach station to understand the food these giant creatures ate and a tendon station to feel how these rubbery body parts affect a body.

Then, parents can play detective with their children as they explore the rest of Dinosphere. Try pointing out the type of setting the other fossils are in and what that might mean. How can you tell if the other specimens are herbivores or carnivores? What clues help lead us to that conclusion? Ask kids what clues our bodies tell us about humans.

Come visit with Leonardo and learn all the fascinating information he has to tell!

Tags: Around Town, In This Issue

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