Discovery Channel to Unveil the 'Holy Grail' of Paleontology in 'SECRETS OF THE DINOSAUR MUMMY'
- Found Almost Fully Intact, 'Leonardo' Reveals How Dinosaurs Lived 77
Million Years Ago -
SILVER SPRING, Md., July 10 -- 'Leonardo' was found in
Montana almost fully intact. Ninety percent of his body is covered in skin.
We know what he ate for his last meal. What makes this so impressive?
Leonardo is a 77 million year-old dinosaur. Discovery Channel reveals what
is unquestionably one of the most unexpected and important dinosaur
discoveries of all time in the one-hour high-definition special SECRETS OF
THE DINOSAUR MUMMY, premiering Sunday, September 14 at 9 PM (ET/PT).
Discovered in 2000 by a team of amateur paleontologists exploring
Malta, Montana, Leonardo -- named for graffiti found near his burial site
-- is the first dinosaur mummy with intact digestive tract contents ever
found. With this once-in-a-lifetime finding, scientists now have more than
just bones to fully reconstruct how dinosaurs looked and lived. From the
cause of death to Leonardo's last meal, scientific tests provide far more
detail than the team of scientists ever expected. Skin impressions and
actual fossilized samples of the digested food still inside the viscera,
plus skin and joints, allow the team to create the first reconstruction of
a giant dinosaur, accurate both inside and out.
"Discovery Channel has obtained exclusive access to what promises to be
an extraordinary development in the history of paleontology -- a high-tech
exploration deep into the body of a dinosaur that lived 77 million years
ago," said John Ford, president and general manager of Discovery Channel.
"It's a privilege to be able to document the amazing discoveries made
possible by this perfectly intact dinosaur and share them with our
Leonardo is a young Brachylophosaurus, a four-legged plant-eating
duck-billed dinosaur, the very first juvenile of the species discovered
with extensive skin. He was approximately three to four years old when he
died and would have been 20 feet long, weighing about 2,000 pounds.
From high-tech testing of Leonardo's remains, scientists have
positively identified what a plant-eating dinosaur ate -- something that
has never been done before. Leonardo's last meal consisted largely of
leaves which included ferns, magnolias and conifers. Additional analysis
has confirmed at least 40 different types of prehistoric plant pollen
preserved in his stomach. Since most dinosaurs were herbivores, this find
is an incredibly important step in learning more about the creatures' lives
on the planet.
Another finding that was only possible due to Leonardo's intact remains
is the strong evidence for a crop. Modern plant-eating birds have crops to
aid in the digestion process, but there was no evidence of the possibility
that dinosaurs may have also had crops until Leonardo was unearthed. This
startling discovery has led to new theories of how these creatures lived.
Leonardo will be on display at The Houston Museum of Natural Science in
a specially created exhibit -- Dinosaur Mummy CSI: Cretaceous Science
Investigation -- beginning September 19, 2008.
SECRETS OF THE DINOSAUR MUMMY is directed and written by Michael
Jorgensen and produced for Discovery Channel by MidCanada Entertainment and
Myth Merchant Films. Wayne Sheldon is executive producer and Kevin Dunn is
producer for MidCanada Entertainment. Carrie Gour is executive producer and
Michael Jorgensen is producer for Myth Merchant films. For Discovery
Channel, Paul Gasek is executive producer.
About Discovery Communications
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Company (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S.
Hendricks, Discovery's founder and chairman. For more information, please