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Well-Preserved Dinosaur Fossil Discovered in Canada, 'Sleeping Dragon' Almost Looks Like a Statue

May 15, 2017 11:53 AM EDT

The preservation of creatures from the past is still a mystery to some extent. Some fossils remain intact and undisrupted despite spending thousands or even millions of years being buried. This is true with the recently unearthed dinosaur fossil in Canada called the "Sleeping Dragon."

The dinosaur fossil, "sleeping dragon," was so well preserved that it does not look like a fossil but, instead, a statue. The 110 million-year-old fossil garnered the attention because even the scales of its armor were preserved. Its pristine state gave the researchers more data about its origin.

"I couldn't believe my eyes - it was a dinosaur," Donald Henderson, the curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum said.

The said statue-like "sleeping dragon" fossil was discovered in Canada in 2011. Machine operator Shawn Funk accidentally found the "sleeping dragon" in a mine near Fort McMurray in Alberta.

The fossil belongs to a plant-eating species called "nodosaur." Scientists are still trying to explain how the dinosaur got preserved up until today, but the theory is that it was swept up by a flood and ended up in a river right after it died.

The nodosaur remains were then carried into the ocean floor where it was engulfed by mud. The mud helped preserve and petrify the nodosaur. The state in which it was fossilized made it look like a sleeping dragon statue.

Experts say that usual dinosaur fossils have teeth and bones, but the nodosaur even has the features of its scale armor. This is due to its rapid preservation process.

"We don't just have a skeleton... we have a dinosaur as it would have been," postdoctoral researcher Caleb Brown said in an interview.

Because of the unprecedented data that it have, the nodosaur is a prize for researchers to find. It's like finding an actual dinosaur, only it is dead and fossilized.

Today, the nodosaur is being restored and the public is welcome to witness the unearthing of its secrets at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. Because it looks like a statue, it is also a befitting centerpiece in a recent exhibit in Alberta.

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