Tyler Lyson '06 found the 25-foot-long hadrosaur, including not just bones but fossilized soft tissue such as skin and muscle, as a teenager in his native North Dakota.
Although much scientific investigation remains to be done - including an autopsy featured in National Geographic - it is likely the most complete and best preserved mummified dinosaur ever found. His work is featured this week in the Washington Post and on Good Morning America.
Lyson, an honors biology major who attended Swarthmore as an Evans Scholar, is now pursuing a doctorate at Yale University, where he is studying the geochemical conditions that preserved the specimen. Lyson is also the co-founder of the Marmarth Research Foundation, located in his hometown and which provides volunteers with hands-on field and lab work on fossils. Read more in the New York Times.
Lyson, who credits Swarthmore biology professor Scott Gilbert with helping him pull the project together, says he purposely did not study paleontology as an undergraduate. "I would have been bogged down," he says, "a specialist, not a generalist. All of the people I work with, professors and curators, recommend liberal arts schools for that very reason. In evolutionary terms, it's dangerous to be a specialist. You could become extinct!"