Tyler Lyson

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Tyler Lyson is the discoverer of the dinosaur fossil Dakota, a fossilized mummified hadrosaur.

Lyson received his bachelor's degree in biology from Swarthmore College[1][2] in 2006, and received a scholarship to study for his PhD in paleontology at Yale University.[3] Having completed his studies there, Lyson is, as of 2016, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

In 1999, Lyson discovered the Dakota dinosaur specimen while exploring the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota, on his uncle's ranch. The find is unique since the fossilized remains include skin and other soft tissues in a non-collapsed state, while a very few other finds have occurred where petrified soft tissue has been preserved, but in a collapsed or crushed state.

Tyler Lyson’s general research interests are focused around his field work in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation of southwestern North Dakota. He is currently working on two sites from this area: a large population of baenid turtles from a single locality and an exceptionally well-preserved hadrosaur dinosaur. Lyson is interested in the intraspecies variation found in baenid turtles and how this influences the interrelationships of the clade. Ultimately he plans to integrate this research with a more broad scale phylogenetic analysis of the transition of all turtle groups across the K/T boundary to determine the pattern of survival and extinction around this boundary. Tyler is also interested in soft tissue preservation found in dinosaurs. He plans to work on the recently collected hadrosaur dinosaur that has most of its integument preserved to determine how the soft tissue was preserved.

Tyler Lyson's work has been featured in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Good Morning America. He is also the co-founder with Harold Hanks of the Marmarth Research Foundation, located in his hometown and which provides volunteers with hands-on field and lab work on fossils. In 2015, Lyson appeared, as a paleontologist, in the PBS documentary film, Making North America.


  1. ^ "Mummified Dinosaur Found by Tyler Lyson '06 Is Ready for Its Closeup". Swarthmore College.
  2. ^ Charles Q. Choi (2005-09-11). "Digging Up Dinosaur Bones in the Fossil-Rich Badlands". New York Times.
  3. ^ Marina Lima (2006-04-20). "T-Rexes and Raptors and Pterodactyls, oh my! College Corner with Tyler Lyson". The Daily Gazette (of Swarthmore College).