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Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

Nodosaur Dinosaur ‘Mummy’ Unveiled With Skin And Guts Intact in Canada

A heavy equipment company began mining a strange colored stone at Millennium Mine in northern Alberta in 2011.

His supervisor quickly realized that they had something special, Michael Greshko reports for National Geographic. He stopped looking more closely and puzzled the material, which had strange patterns.

A little fossilized skin had recently been extracted from an armored nodosaur, a kind of ankylosaur. Nevertheless, this was not just a fossil; it was one of the best-preserved specimens of nodasaurus ever discovered.

The fossil remains are incredibly lifelike, resembling a sleeping dragon.

According to National Geographic, which sponsored the five-year, 7,000-hour preparation of the fossil, it’s likely that the 3,000-pound,18-foot-long creature died in or near a river. Then its bloated carcass floated out to sea before sinking back-first into the muck where fossilization began.

“It’s basically a dinosaur mummy—it really is exceptional,” Don Brinkman, director of preservation and research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum where the fossil is housed tells Craig S. Smith at The New York Times.

The remarkable preservation of its armored plates, as well as some preserved scales, are helping paleontologists finally understand the size and shape of the creature’s keratin defenses.

“I’ve been calling this one the Rosetta stone for armor,” Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Tyrrell Museum tells Greshko.

The nodasaurus fossil on display (Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Canada)
The nodosaur has been described by some scientists as the “rhinoceros of its day.”

As Matt Rehbein at CNN reports, the dino is 110 million years old, making it the oldest ever found in Alberta. It also represents a new genus and species of nodosaur. But the most exciting aspect may be at the microscopic level, Greshko reports.

The researchers have detected miniscule bits of red pigment, which could help them reconstruct the dinosaur’s coloration—a feature that may have helped it attract mates.

“This armor was clearly providing protection, but those elaborated horns on the front of its body would have been almost like a billboard,” Jakob Vinther, an animal coloration expert from the University of Bristol who has studied the fossil, tells Greshko.

The new specimen isn’t the only exceptional ankylosaur specimen recently unveiled. Just last week Brian Switek at Smithsonian.com reported that the Royal Ontario Museum discovered a new species in Montana, which they nicknamed Zuul. That specimen also has some intact armor plates and skin as well as a tail club.

Switek explains that during decomposition the armor plates of ankylosaurs typically fall off and are often washed away or not found.

But the discovery of these two extraordinary samples will go a long way towards helping researchers figure just what these animals looked like and how they used their formidable horns and armor.

The nodosaurus is now on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, as part of an exhibit highlighting the importance of cooperation between extraction industries and paleontologists in uncovering fossils.

Ancient Roman sarcophagus found at London building site

Ancient Roman sarcophagus found at London building site

LONDON, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that a 1,600-year-old Roman sarcophagus with an opened lid was unearthed at a construction site on Swan Street in central London.

An infant’s bones and a broken bracelet were found in the soil near the sarcophagus.

The 1,600-year-old coffin found near Borough Market is thought to contain the remains of a member of the nobility.

Archaeologists have been unable to identify the body as the stone coffin has been left filled with soil after being robbed, experts believe.

The sarcophagus will be taken to the Museum of London and the bones will be analyzed.

The coffin was found several meters underground with its lid slid open, which indicates it was plundered by 18th-century thieves.

Experts discovered the coffin six months into the dig as they were due to finish their search
The coffin was found on Swan Street.

Gillian King, senior planner for archaeology at Southwark Council, said she hoped the grave robbers “have left the things that were of small value to them but great value to us as archaeologists”.

The grave owner must have been “very wealthy and have had a lot of social status to be honored with not just a sarcophagus, but one that was built into the walls of a mausoleum” Ms. King said.

She added: “We always knew this site had the potential for a Roman cemetery, but we never knew there would be a sarcophagus.”

The location is a prime spot for historical finds
The sarcophagus will now be taken to the Museum of London’s archive for analysis

The coffin was found on Swan Street after the council told developers building new flats on the site to fund an archaeological dig.

Researchers discovered the coffin six months into the dig as they were due to finish their search.

Experts at the Museum of London will now test and date the bones and soil inside.

Chinese Boy Accidentally Finds 66-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Eggs

Chinese Boy Accidentally Finds 66-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Eggs

The Beijing Youth Daily revealed that a 9-year-old primary school student from Heyuan, South China’s Guangdong province, accidentally discovered what he suspected to be a dinosaur egg fossil while playing with his mom on the downtown riverbank.

Third-grade Zhang Yangzhe (pictured) made the extraordinary discovery while playing on the embankment of Dong River in Heyuan, southern China’s Guangdong Province

Later, the mom of the boy, Li Xiaofang, approached the local museum whose staff members went and dug even more dinosaur eggs around the site.

The 11 dinosaur egg fossils date back to 66 million years ago.

Li said later in an interview that she and her son, Zhang Yangzhe, were playing near the Dongjiang River.

“The bridge over the river has been damaged by the flood, and the soil below the abutment was exposed,” she said. This is what helped the boy to find the eggs.

The schoolboy found 11 eggs in total.

“He found an eggshell on the slope (of the broken bridge) and called me immediately to tell me about his discovery, saying it seemed like a dinosaur egg,” said Li.

She added that the boy had recently visited the local dinosaur museum where he saw various shapes of dinosaur egg fossils, some complete while others are broken, which helped him recognize the dinosaur egg at a glance.

Soon after the excavation of the first one, another was also unearthed about 80 cm above the previous spot on the slope.

Knowing their archeological values, his mother Li contacted Heyuan Dinosaur Museum via the help of a friend.

Yangzhou was accompanied by his mother (pictured with her son) while coming across the fossils. According to his mother, Li Xiaofang, Yangzhe has read many books about dinosaurs

The city, known as the “hometown of dinosaurs”, has discovered a large number of dinosaur eggs and bone fossils since 1996.

A dinosaur research institute named China’s Ancient Animal Museum and Dinosaur Egg Museum, also known as the Heyuan Dinosaur Museum, has been established in the city.

Thousands of eggs have been found in the city of Heyuan over the years.

Huang Zhiqing, deputy director of the research department of Heyuan Dinosaur Museum, said they rushed to the scene with police after receiving the news.

A total of 11 “stone eggs” each about 9 centimeters in diameter were excavated, later verified as dinosaur eggs all dating back to the late Cretaceous age, according to the local museum.

Huang Zhiqing said houses were built at the place where the dinosaur eggs were discovered, so the soil softens as time flies. Dinosaur egg fossils which remain in good condition despite water and erosion are extremely rare.

Huang Zhiqing said the museum will organize manpower to clean and repair these dinosaur egg fossils. They will also find an appropriate time to re-examine and further excavate the abutment.

“Maybe we will discover new things,” Huang Zhiqing said.

Li said the child’s recognition of the dinosaur egg is inseparable from his education.

“Maybe because of the city’s environment, he is full of curiosity about everything related to dinosaurs,” she said, adding that he goes to libraries and museums to search for information he is curious about.

Greek Farmer Accidentally Discovers 3,400-Year-Old Minoan Tomb Hidden Under Olive Grove

Greek Farmer Accidentally Discovers 3,400-Year-Old Minoan Tomb Hidden Under Olive Grove

Sometime between 1400 and 1200 B.C., two Minoan men were laid to rest in an underground enclosure carved out of the soft limestone native to southeast Crete.

Both were entombed within larnakes—intricately embossed clay coffins popular in Bronze Age Minoan society—and surrounded by colorful funerary vases that hinted at their owners’ high status. Eventually, the burial site was sealed with stone masonry and forgotten, leaving the deceased undisturbed for roughly 3,400 years.

When a farmer was parking his truck under some olive trees on his property when the ground beneath him started to give way.

After the farmer moved his vehicle to a safer location, he saw that a four-foot-wide hole had opened up in the ground. When he peered inside, he realized this was no ordinary hole.

The hole in the ground led to a Minoan Bronze Age tomb.

The farmer called in archaeologists from the local heritage ministry to investigate, and they began excavating what turned out to be an ancient Minoan tomb, carved into the soft limestone, which had been lying hidden for millennia.

Two adult Minoan men had been placed in highly-embossed clay coffins called “larnakes” which were common in Bronze Age Minoan culture. These, in turn, were surrounded by funerary vases which suggest that the men were of high status.

The ancient chamber tomb was entirely intact and undamaged by looters.

The tomb was about 13 feet in length and eight feet deep, divided into three chambers that would have been accessed via a vertical tunnel that was sealed with clay after the tomb’s occupants were laid to rest.

One larnax was found in the northernmost chamber, with a number of funerary vessels scattered around it.

The chamber at the southern end of the tomb held the other larnax coffin, along with 14 amphorae and a bowl. The tomb was estimated to be about 3,400 years old and was preserved in near-perfect condition, making it a valuable find.

The skeletal remains were found inside two larnakes (singular: “larnax”) – a type of small closed coffin used in the Minoan and Greek Bronze Age.

Kristina Killgrove, a bioarchaeologist, wrote for Forbes that the ornamentation on the artifacts found in the tomb suggest that its inhabitants were men of wealth.

The fanciest tombs from the same period, however, had massive domed walls in a “beehive” style, which this tomb doesn’t, so they probably weren’t among the wealthiest.

The find dates from the Late Minoan Period, sometimes called the Late Palace Period.

In the earlier part of that era, the Minoan civilization was very rich, with impressive ceramics and art, but by the later part of the period, there is an apparent decline in wealth and prestige, according to Killgrove.

It’s believed that the civilization was weakened by a combination of natural disasters, including a tsunami triggered by an earthquake, and the eruption of a nearby volcano. This made it easier for foreigners to come in and destroy the palaces.

The ornate pottery vessels found inside the tomb were all in good condition. 

Locals don’t anticipate the discovery of any more tombs of this type, but the area is known to be the home of a number of antiquities, and a great deal of them have been found by coincidence, as with this find.

The Deputy Mayor of Local Communities, Agrarian, and Tourism of Ierapetra pointed out that the tomb had never been found by thieves, and went on to say that it would probably have remained undiscovered forever, except for the broken irrigation pipe that was responsible for the softened and eroded soil in the farmer’s olive grove.

Minoan fresco is commonly known as the ‘Prince of the Lilies.’

He went on to say how pleased they were with having the tomb to further enrich their understanding of their ancient culture and history, and that the tomb was proof for those historians who didn’t think that there had been Minoans in that part of Crete.

Previously, it had been thought that the Minoans only settled in the lowlands and plains of the island, not in the mountains that surround Ierapetra, although there was an excavation in 2012 that uncovered a Minoan mansion in the same area.

Killgrove will be analyzing the skeletons, to see what further information can be gleaned from them. She said, “As a bioarchaeologist, I routinely pore over the skeletons of ancient populations so that I can learn about their health, diet, and lifestyles.” It’s also hoped that analysis can contribute more information into the research on Minoan and Mycenaean origins.

The “Oldest Gold Of Mankind” was found in the Varna Necropolis

The “Oldest Gold Of Mankind” was found in the Varna Necropolis, on The Bulgarian Black Sea Coast

In 1972, an excavator operator working in the industrial zone of the city Varna will stumble upon something that will turn out to be a very significant historical site. The Varna Necropolis has discovered approximately half a kilometer from Lake Varna and 4 km from the city center. It is estimated that it was made sometime between 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC.

Around 300 graves have been found at this burial site, but the most significant is grave 43. It contained the remains of a high-status person and it was covered with treasures. This single grave contained more gold than all of the other archeological sites from that period put together.

We constantly speak about early, ancient, civilizations like the ones that thrived in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley, that shaped humanity as we know today. But not a lot of people know about the mysterious people that lived on the shores of the Back Sea in modern-day Bulgaria 7,000 years ago. Archeologists call this civilization the Varna Culture.

The Varna Culture was considered small and insignificant for a long time until it was proven that this was a highly developed culture that preexisted Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. The discoveries made in the Varna Necropolis also showed that it was that first known culture that produced artifacts made of gold. This site is the largest prehistoric necropolis in south-eastern Europe.

According to the evidence, gold processing in the Varna region started between 4600 and 4200 BC. The ore processing technology was constantly developing here, and soon, the craftsmen became very skilled in manufacturing copper and gold items. They had the perfect products for trade.

Varna people were perfectly situated between the east and the western world. One one side they had the Black Sea and the opportunity to trade with their neighbors that lived around it and beyond, and on the other side, the road was opened for trade with the whole Mediterranean region. Because of this Varna became an important trading center.

They were able to accumulate great wealth (especially the craftsmen that worked with gold and copper) and develop a nice society mostly consisted of Metallurgists, merchants, and farmers, kind of a class system. This was the basis upon which a powerful and influential culture emerged, one that would spread across Europe for thousands of years.

Before 1972, the only artifacts found from the time of the Varna Culture were tools, vessels, utensils, and figurines made from stone, flint, bone, and claystone made. But, after archeologists Mihail Lazarov and Ivan Ivanov revealed the Varna Necropolis to the world, this amazing civilization was viewed from a different perspective.

These are probably the oldest gold artifacts in the world.

Inside the 300 graves of the necropolis, archeologists unearthed more than 22,000 unique artifacts. This huge list of items contains more than 3,000 golden artifacts, that is 6 kilograms of pure gold. Besides this, there were also plenty of high-quality copper, flint and stone tools, jewelry, shells of Mediterranean mollusks, pottery, obsidian blades, and beads.

The Varna man 

Among the many elite burials in the necropolis, there was one that was different from the others. Different in the sense of “more spectacular.” After uncovering grave 43, archeologists concluded that it was the final resting place of a high-status male, probably a ruler, or some kind of leader in the society.

This was the richest grave of all that have been found, not only in Varna Necropolis but in the whole world at that time. The person was buried with a beautiful golden scepter in his hand. The scepter is a symbol of high rank or spiritual power.

His whole body and its surroundings were covered with golden items. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, round shaped golden items placed on specific parts of the body, and he even had a golden plate around the genitals. Together with the golden artifacts, the weapons that probably belonged to this person were also placed around his body.

Besides the material richness that Varna necropolis provided archeologists with, it also gave an insight into the hierarchy in this ancient society, their religious beliefs and intricate burial practices. Males and females were buried differently. Males were laid out on their backs while females were placed in the fetal position. There was also another type of graves found.

Some of the graves didn’t contain skeletons, they were only filled with items. These symbolic graves, known as cenotaphs, were one of the richest with gold and treasures. They contained masks made of clay and gold amulets made in the shape of women, placed below the mask, where the neck of a buried person was supposed to be.

Some of the items found inside the “symbolic graves”

The amulets are symbolizing pregnancy and fertility which indicates that they are meant for women. The empty graves also contained a copper pin, a flint knife, and a spindle whorl.

This further indicates that the symbolic graves were made for women, or as a gift for some kind of deity that symbolizes the feminine principle. It is still a mystery why these graves were left without human remains.

The Varna civilization is without direct descendants, they were probably assimilated in other surrounding European and Asian cultures during all those centuries of turmoil in this region.

However, they left a huge legacy and with their accomplishments they made the appearance of the following European civilizations possible. We may never know how the Varna people really lived, but Varna necropolis with all the magical artifacts opens our imaginations.