DescriptionEXTREMELY RARE DINOSAUR SKIN IMPRESSION ON BONE-FILLED MATRIX
Late Cretaceous, Maastrichtian stage
Lance Formation, Wyoming, USA
Among the rarest and most sought-after specimens amongst fossil collectors are examples of dinosaur skin impression. The reason that most fossils consist solely of bones is that the long slow process of fossilization is in almost every case easily beaten by the process of decay; soft tissue stands next to no chance of being preserved in stone as it has long since been broken down by natural chemical process, or even disposed of by scavengers. In some rare instances, however, the dead animal is so swiftly covered by fine mud sediments, often in a large river delta, that the skin and flesh are protected from immediate bacterial breakdown. This must happen within no more than two or three days after death. Once protected, the skin texture is impressed in the soft mud, and when the organic matter does eventually decay, it is replaced with more muddy sand, filling the naturally-formed mold. As this sand slowly hardens to rock over millions of years, the delicate skin impression is transferred and retained in the positive forever. The Lance Formation in Elk Basin Anticline, Wyoming, has been a comparatively fertile source of these positive skin impressions, and the present example is from the dimpled hide of an Ornithischian, an order of dinosaurs named for their bird-like hips (as distinct from the Saurischia, the lizard-hipped dinosaurs). The skin impression here covers an irregularly-shaped area of approximately 7½ x 7 inches, and is preserved on a bone-filled matrix, with one large vertebra jutting from a corner, its strong rust-brown color standing out in pleasing contrast to the sandy 12 x 9 x 4¾ inch matrix.
Condition report available upon request.
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