Dakota the Dinomummy

Mid-forearm skin from Dakota showing fingernail sized scales

The State Historical Society of North Dakota and the North Dakota Geological Survey announce a major exhibit update for Dakota. Scheduled for completion in spring 2020, the updated exhibit outside the Adaptation Gallery: Geologic Time will have interactive experiences and additional public information for better understanding of the hadrosaur.

Dakota, one of only a handful of mummified hadrosaurs in the world, has been featured in national and international news reports because of its rare skin preservation. Unlike previous dinosaur mummies, which typically show skin impressions in rock, Dakota’s skin appears to be mostly intact with visible scales. This makes Dakota one of the most scientifically important dinosaurs ever found.

Dakota was a plant eater that weighed about four tons when it was living. Scientists believe it could run up to 28 miles per hour.

The mummified body, tail, arm, and foot of the hadrosaur, discovered near Marmarth in southwestern North Dakota in 1999, have been on exhibit since the State Museum expansion opened in 2014. The arm, foot, and tail have been removed for cleaning and research. More of the specimen’s skin will be exposed for the new exhibit.

The 2020 exhibit will provide improved visibility of the fossil. Museum visitors will also be able to touch a replica of a skin section.

"Dakota the dinomummy is an exceptional fossil specimen," said paleontologist Becky Barnes. "Most of the time when people think about fossils, they think of bones or shells — not skin.  We want to update this exhibit to showcase that rare aspect.  Using 3D scanning and printing to create a replica, this will be as close as people can come to actually petting a dinosaur."

We’ll keep you updated here and on social media using #dinomummy!