[07/10/08 - 01:13 PM]
Discovery Channel to Unveil the 'Holy Grail' of Paleontology in 'Secrets of the Dinosaur Mummy'
The one-hour high-definition special airs Sunday, September 14 at 9:00/8:00c.

[via press release from Discovery]

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 viewers."

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

Discovery Communications is the world's number-one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries. Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, Discovery's founder and chairman. For more information, please visit http://www.discoverycommunications.com.

  [july 2008]  

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