For six long years, scientists at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta have been chiseling out what they are calling the “most impressive fossil” they have ever seen. However, those six long years are dwarfed by the 110 million years that the dinosaur spent at the bottom of a mine in western Canada.
The nodosaurus, cousin of the tank dinosaur ankylosaurus, was stumbled upon by accident back in 2011 in the Millennium Mine 17 miles north of Fort McMurray, Alberta by a heavy-equipment operator by the name of Shawn Funk. What makes this fossil so special is that it is the most well-preserved ever uncovered, according to National Geography. The sample has given scientists the best look at actual dinosaur skin that they have ever seen.
Paleobiologist Jakob Vinther, an expert on animal coloration from the U.K.’s University of Bristol, claims that the dinosaur is so well preserved that the dinosaur could very well “have been walking around a couple of weeks ago.”
Scientists who have studied the fossil determined that it is so well preserved because it died underwater. 110 million years ago, the area it was uncovered in was a vast sea that stretched across North America, and it is likely that the dinosaur was swept up in a river and bloated as the rapids floated it out to the sea. There, its carcass exploded when the gasses grew too thick, and it sank into the mineral rich ocean bottom, which helped preserve it.
The fossil has been on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta since May 12.