Secrets of the Dinosaur Mummy

Secrets Of The Dinosaur MummySecrets of the Dinosaur Mummy concerns Leonardo, a remarkably well-preserved juvenile Brachylophosaurus that lived (and died) 77 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period. Discovered in Montana in 2000, Leonardo is pretty much intact (except for his lower back and tail), although the process of petrification has amplified his presumed weight of 2,000 pounds into a full six tons.

Secrets has the usual CGI interludes of roaming herds of Brachylophosauruses (which are convincing and tastefully done), but its main focus is on the techniques used to explore Leonardo's viscera. Since there was no question of cracking the fossil open to reveal its insides (which would have resulted in considerable damage), the research team--led by rogue paleontologist Robert Bakker--had to rely on increasingly powerful imaging techniques.

It's amusing to see the heavy armament that's wheeled in: first, high-intensity X-rays, then even more powerful gamma rays, then a blast of cobalt radiation at NASA's Johnson Space Center (which required the evacuation of the entire complex). So what do these scans accomplish? Well, it's not giving anything away to reveal that, yes, scientists have been able to observe anatomical details in Leonardo's mummy that have not yet been seen in any other dinosaur fossils. It seems that Leonardo had a bird-like crop in its neck (which helped it to digest food), a more extensive beak than previously realized, and an intricate array of different-sized scales on its head, back, underbelly and legs (which had the biggest scales of all, presumably to protect them against the thick underbrush).

The research team was also able to determine how Leonardo died (I won't reveal the details here, but suffice it to say that he had a very bad, awful, not-good dinosaur day), and what he ate in the last few days before he met his demise. In fact, this last nugget of information may be the most important of all, since the pollen and leaves found in Leonardo's gut provide valuable information about the ecosystem of the western United States in the late Cretaceous.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist)

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Ratings: 7.38/10 from 8 users.

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Comments and User Reviews

  • Kuw-eighty

    Interesting Doc. I recommend watching it for a thorough and detailed case regarding archaeological dinosaur discoveries.

  • Achems Razor

    Great doc. watched all.

  • Reasons Voice

    Loved this one Vlatko thanks so much. I work with diagnostic imaging so enjoy the forensic aspects here. Have to say though that the people doing those x-rays were not great. Well atleast not at understanding/explaining the equipment and how it functions. No tube is water cooled ever. and "extremly dangerous" if so they would be doing far fewer CT scans in the world. Makes it all sound much more dramatic and yet sound like radiation physics is the playground of the borderline mentally challenged.

  • ez2b12

    @ Reasons voice

    X-ray tubes can be classified according to the type of cooling used for the anode: water cooling, oil cooling, air cooling, or radiant cooling. ...
    Copied this deirectly from the free online encyclopedia. Maybe this is just equiptment you are not familiar with.Sounds to me like it is industrial strength version of what you may be familiar with.I know that when i had a CT scan they didn't expose me to the xray for a full minute at a time, on here they said they did this to the poor dino mummy- of course he is dead so how bad for him could it have been.I didn't think they would get it wrong on a documentary like this, they seem to know exactly what they are doing.I'm sure you do to but with standard equiptment.

  • gunther

    yup...........useing dynamite to look for fossils.....tried and true..OMG!!!!!!

  • ez2b12

    @ Gunther

    I couldn't get it to buffer and could not watch it all.Did they really use dynamite to look for fossils, surely not. Thats halariouse- i take it back Reasons Voice these people may not know what they are doing.

    "This pile of powder used to be thigh we think, and that one well thats the skull-maybe? What, we are in a grave yard, uh oh. That explains the plastic flowers I guess!!" Ahahaha I love it.

  • Linda McGuigan

    A great documentary, did NASA steal Leonardo from Murphy on a trumped up charge of stealing a raptor claw I did'nt quite understand that bit, however the rest of the original team where there in the end. I realy enjoyied this the forensic's were of great interest to me. Thank's again for a wonderful site.
    Linda ;-*

  • http://thedexorphan.info joeDEX

    too much speculation. not enough science.

  • coyote03

    They never used dynamite to look for fossils! They used dynamite for the purpose of precision blasting the large rock which surrounded the fossil. They basically cut out a large area around the fossil, took it back to the lab, then proceeded to carve away the rock and dirt for something like 2 years. The guy who found it had his son do most of the dirty work.

    I also wonder what really happened to Mr. Murphy, the guy who found Leo, the whole thing sounded a bit fishy.

    This documentary combines several scientific fields, forensics, paleo-anthropology, biology and probably more whose names I'm unaware of :P I can't say I agree with joeDEX's comment, but I do understand why some think that way.

  • HY

    the reason why i enjoyed this doc was because i loved seeing the passion and excitement in all their faces!

    no matter how silly it may sound.

  • Richard Miller

    One of the best dinosaur doc.s I've ever seen.
    If the State had the right to confiscate the fossel, why didn't they go out and get it. Was there any reimbursment for all their efforts? I doubt it. Big brother has some distorted thinking.

  • ez2b12

    I didn't think they said the state confiscated it, did they? i thought, and trust me I wondered why they where involved, they said NASA got it. From what i gathered the first guy had stolen a raptor claw or something and as a result he was on the run after being charged. Then someone, I thought NASA, came and got Leo and took him somewhere else to finish x-raying and studying him.

    But it wouldn't buffer right for me so it kept pausing and starting and pausing again. So i could have easily been mistaken. i think I have some spyware or something slowing me down lately. Everything was fine and then my dad downloaded some pictures of Kim Kardashian, you know for intellectual purposes only. Any way i caught a virus as a result, I know you should never down load stuff like this but hey- he's 78 years old let him have some fun. And every since I have been unable to watch stuff from almost anywhere without buffering issues.My anti-virus software (avast) says that it removed all viruses but something has to be going on.Any suggestions?

  • coyote03

    Yeah I'm still a bit confused on exactly what happened with them confiscating it, they obviously were a bit vague about it in the documentary. I feel bad for the guy's son who spent all that time chiseling away at the fossil.

    I'm no good with computers; buy a Mac? (So far I've only had a positive experience with mine)

  • crabman

    Suck on that Jesus.

  • LisaP

    I agree with HY... watching the enthusiasm of these guys with each new discovery was fantastic and made me feel more involved in the journey.

    However, by the end, I was more thinking of what happened to Murphy!....
    From how I understood it, Murphy went to NASA asking for their uber X-rays then the next scene was some story quickly explaining he had stolen a raptor claw and left town because of the charges... Does this seem incredibly thin to anyone else?? Murphy seemed to have sacrificed everything (including his son's youth!) to discovering Leo's secrets.
    I find it hard to imagine a man like that would leave his museum, other species and a lifetime of work over a charge of theft.
    The documentary ended with Leo still at NASA as far as I can tell...

  • Galloway Grumblefield

    @ReasonsVoice,

    The x-ray equipment resembled high powered laser equipment, as in argon or xenon lasers, which use water cooled power supplies. So, these were probably stimulated emission x-rays, very tightly focused, coherent, and extremely dangerous if they reflect and bounce off metal. Lasers are bad enough, but you can see laser light. You can't see x-rays bouncing off of metal, so the safe thing to do is to clear everyone out of an unshielded building.