Tyler Lyson

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/21/art.lyson.jpg caption=”Tyler Lyson’s interest in fossil discovery led him to help create a research foundation.”]Lots of kids are into dinosaurs. Tyler Lyson says he just never grew out of it. He grew up in rural North Dakota and says fossils were more ubiquitous there than in other places in the U.S.

But in 1999, he didn’t find just any fossil; he discovered something jaw-dropping: a 25-foot-long dinosaur, complete with skin and all. Lyson’s find was an Edmontosaurus he named Dakota. The 65 million-year-old mummified dinosaur was eventually unearthed with Lyson standing by in 2004.

Lyson is now the co-founder of the Marmarth Research Foundation in his hometown. The foundation is creating a museum and outreach programs to give volunteers hands-on field and lab work with fossils. While getting his doctorate at Yale, Lyson wants to make sure that other kids don’t grow out of their fascination with the extinct.

Update: Watch the CNN.com Live interview

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39 Responses to Tyler Lyson

  1. Dan Garcia says:

    Wow, great discovery keep up the good work.
    It is nice to see a young person make the Cnn.com website for something other than some horrific crime or random school shooting. Kudos to CNN for highlighting an alternative to being a loser for kids!!

  2. joe capone says:

    that is amazing tyler,

    can you send me a pic of the dinosaur ?

    great job


  3. Val says:

    Keep up the good work Tyson. My 10 year old daughter has a similar passion and I have been looking for how I can take her on a real hunt over the next few years. Do you have any suggestions?


    – Val

  4. Bill says:

    Is the mummified find (vs. petrified) unprecedented?
    Inasmuch as there is dried tissue of various kinds, would it theoretically be possible to extract and study DNA from the mummified beast?

  5. Mike says:

    If you can extract the DNA can it be cloned? Will you ever be able to uncover it all and not have it disintegrate? Would you or could you move it in it’s entirety? Fascinating stuff!

  6. Phil says:

    That is a truly incredible find to find a ‘mummified’ Edmontosaurus. What I’m curious about is the skin and possibility of internal organs.

    Did you find any clear coloration or texturing to the skin that would show what the animal would have looked like during life?

    My other question regards the mummified corpse: how do you go about researching it in a way that does not destroy it? If you wanted to see the inside of the stomach, would or how would that be possible?


  7. Andy Serafin says:

    I would like to get in touch with Tyler Lyson, I am a sculptor and would like to donate a Allosaurus scull I sculpted from wood to display at his museum. I used a mold I have from Jim Madsen, it is full size. I could send him a photo. Please have him contact me.

    Regards, Andy

  8. John says:

    Hi Tyler,

    Congratulations on this momentous discovery. I would be very interested in seeing some photos of the find and the excavation site! Thanks and good luck with future finds!

  9. Katherine and Jim Lee says:

    Hello: We are neighbors in Glendive, Montana, and are familiar with Marmarth, although we have not visited your museum. We have a bed and breakfast and occasionally host people who do local dinosaur digs. If you are interested in doing a talk here about your museum, your discoveries, etc., please let us know. Makoshika State Park has a “campfire” series of presentations and it might be a good time to get on their schedule. Sincerely, Jim and Katherine Lee

  10. forrest says:

    Val – my son and I have done a dig several summers in Hulett, WY though the Black hills Institute:


    Best part is, it’s free! Tough work – hot and no shade, but it’s an exceptional learning experience. Call BHI and talk with Sarah about digs. It’s likely too late for this summer (the digs fill up fast) but you can plan for future years.

  11. Antietam says:

    Are internal organs also present, and can you tell what it ate?

  12. michael says:

    Wait? ‘Mummified?’ Really? It was mummified and not fossilized? Or is this just more lax editing on the part of CNN?

  13. Jake says:

    Great find. One question; Why do people still insist one labeling these fossils as “Millions” or “Billions” of years old? Do they not do their research and know that the earth is only between 8,000 to 10,000 years old? Follow the science people, the bedtime stories have had their day.

  14. Tom says:

    So can they use this finding to clone a dinosaur so we can see one live? Well its obvious that we have the technology to do it and can but will it be done, if not here in another country that has no problem doing the footwork. That would be something very interesting to see, i think we can all agree on that.

  15. Meghan says:

    Great Job! My child is beginning an interest in dinosaurs and your story is very inspiring. I want my child to believe that he can do anything he wants to for a career when he grows up, especially something that he loves. Good for you!

  16. jOE B. SALTER says:


  17. Adam says:

    Jake, are you serious?!

  18. fossil says:

    Jake…I can’t let a comment like yours pass without making my own…hte reason that these are labeled as millions of years old is because thousands of people with much more knowledge than you have done REAL research into proving how old something is, not just dismissing a fact because they don’t WANT to believe it…a sure sign of narrowmindedness….fundamentalist beliefs like yours do nothing other than place you firmly in the same camp as most of the Muslim world…firmly and happily entrenched in 1429, the current year of the Muslim fundamentalists…someday you might wake up and realize there’s more to life than one book, which is obviously all you choose to read and shut your eyes to real facts…the Bible is fine as a personal guide but it SHOULD NOT ever be used as a scientific reference…..

  19. Heidi says:

    This dinosaur is the subject in this National Geographic video displayed on Youtube (its broken up in several parts). It does show the mummified dinosaur.

  20. Steve says:

    Don’t let it go to your head kid. Having a good background in stratigraphy, local geology and lots of field time are usually the keys to finding good specimens. I know. The fact that you found an exceptional one is really just lucky. I know a lot of paleo guys who have spent the better part of a lifetime studying dinosaurs that have never even found an articulated specimen much less a ‘mummified’ one.

    So…like I said, don’t let it go to your head. Keep working!

  21. Jack says:

    What’s the matter Fossil? Did Jake hit a nerve? Is your fossil layer crumbling? Why don’t you wake up and smell the world wide flood that rapidly buried these dinosaurs 5000 years ago?

  22. Michael says:

    Imagine what would happen if we did use the Bible for scientific reference….scientists’ wouldn’t have wasted thousands of hours on research to disprove the Bible only to start a false argument.

    What’s so amazing is that those who follow the faith of evolution base their theories and findings from text books. These text books were put together by finite, imperfect human beings. Yet according to these Darwinian folks, everything these authors say is fact. I don’t get it.

  23. SpectateSwamp says:

    On our first dinosaur hunt. We found dinosaur skin 4 hours into the search. Right there on the riverbank in a block of sandstone. The rest of the mummified remains should be there. Maybe more than 1 Dino mummy!

  24. Jon says:

    Fossils don’t have tissue, it’s probably not a fossil. Maybe its not millions of years old! The science of evolution is less understood than the propaganda, even by the scientists. Dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of scientists looking at the data makes no difference when they all have the same bias. Unfortunately, all voices will not be heard and mistakes will be made, assumptions (or facts based on assumptions) will be taught as fact, etc. etc. If you don’t have their predetermined ideology, you will not be considered, the ‘real’ research is skewed by their bias.

  25. nicolelapin says:

    Hey there!

    This is my first comment on my blog. On the one-year anniversary of YPWR, I thought it would be appropriate to join the conversation.

    I’m about to interview Tyler. Any last minute questions or thoughts?

    Thanks to all our loyal readers for your support. Here’s to another year of introducing you to amazing people!

    Keep reading and rocking,

  26. anonymous says:

    It never ceases to astound me how many people there are in America who STILL don’t believe in evolution. Tyler has made an incredible scientific discovery, and it is just sad that he actually has to address ridiculous, ignorant questions like “but isn’t the Earth only 10,000 years old??”

  27. Coloradan says:

    To Jake, Michael, and Jack:

    Take a moment to think, please. The computer you are using, and all of the tools of modern society, are completely outside of the Bible. The concept of biological evolution or “change of life through time” is not a new one, and his been shown over-and-over again to be the very best explanation for what we see in the natural world. Indeed, Evolution is on a firmer footing than the theory of the electron, which is the fundamental basis for the computer and internet that you are using.

    Now, it really is time for us to collectively grow up and abandon the notion that the Bible informs us about something beyond moral codes. Evolution is the basis for medicine and our understanding of disease. Many of us are alive because of it. If we had turned our backs on the discoveries of evolution, modern medicine would not exist.

    Yes, it’s time to grow up.

  28. Melissa says:

    Unbelievable. I almost didn’t read the blog because in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Somehow, some bible thumping creationist is going to post something stupid, even though this is a discussion about a scientific discovery, not religion.” But I read it anyway, and sure enough, I was right.

    I want to urge scientists and people who paid attention in biology class to stop engaging these people in discussions. It goes nowhere, and just encourages them to not shut up. We’re better off ignoring them, so long as they aren’t causing any real irreparable damage, to say, school systems.

    This fossil is an amazing find. It’s a wonder things get preserved EVER, never mind getting to see what soft tissues looked like.

  29. Ricardo Colon says:

    I disagree, I feel the majority of youth are misinformed Kool-aid drinkers with no substance. They don’t know history they vote on looks and I am angry to see where the country is going. Thank God for men like Scalia and McCain.

  30. Jack Henry says:

    Where are your transitional forms inthe fossil record? Cant answer that can you? And dont give me punctionated equalilibrium either. Young man or woman just what did man evolve from? Show me man’s transitional forms in the fossil reord..
    And dont tell me to grow up. Please keep your epithets to your self. Ad hominim attacks are the last refuge of a person who is on shaky ground intellectually.
    I would enjoy more discourse, young man or womon. You may refer to me as Mr Henry.

  31. Kevin in San Diego says:

    Yes, it does seem CNN was sensationalizing, or at least not doing the background. A fossil of a mummy is not a mummy. Still a great find though, locating fossil soft tissue.

  32. NotATypo says:

    1) CNN was not sensationalizing. “Mummified” is the term used in paleontology circles to describe dinosaurs (and pieces of them) found in this condition.
    2) Check out the Marmarth Research Foundation website at mrfdigs.com for more info. I’m going this summer with my son (Hi, Tyler!)
    3) Jack, you ARE a transitional form, just not yet in the fossil record. All in good time. Do a Google search on PLATYPUS and study that for a month or two and get back to us on transitional forms.
    4) Thank God for dinosaurs and thank God for evolution!

  33. Sinead says:

    Wow, this man is amazing. He is the owner of my heart 🙂

  34. *aShLeY* says:

    Your discovery is absolutely AMAZING! I don’t know what I would do if i ever found anything like that! Young people should really get interested in science because it’s ahrd telling what they could do with themselves if they just put their mind to what they are doing!! Keep up the good work!! Much luv man! 😉

  35. Mary says:

    I suggest doing some RESEARCH (yes, you will have to do some reading, something you apparently have not done) on the various human species that preceded homo sapiens sapiens (the current human species). There are MANY of those human species in the fossil record.

  36. Jillian and Oriane says:

    Bravo pour tous les efforts que tu fais pour partager ta passion avec les autres!

  37. Zethu Sibiya says:

    encourages us young people to believe a liil mo in ourselves

  38. KELLI says:

    Young people are just that – Young People.
    They are Americas’ future. . . . . but
    They have a lot to learn yet and shouldn’t be the deciding factor
    to electing America’s next president, IMO.
    Why? Because they have not experienced enough in life to make
    an educated choice. College students for instance are barely
    out from under the protective custody of their parents guidance,
    Mature adults on the other hand can recall many bad and good
    presidents of the past and therefore are more able to make a more
    informed decision -call them old farts if you will but they have
    the much needed wisdom of history on their side.

  39. Deanna Parisi says:

    Tyler Lyson might i say you are my roll model for life. I am so excited to become a paleontologist just like you! I am also going to Yale University as you graduated from. I am so excited i can’t wait! By the way congradulations on the discovery for Dakota (the dino mummy you discovered when you were 16 years old on your uncles farm). Yes i know all about you, i know so much about you. But the one thing i dont know which i would Love to. Is when did you first discover that you wanted to become a paleontologist? Email me back whenever you can thank you so much and good luck on other findings!

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