One afternoon, sixteen-year-old Tyler Lyson decided to go looking for fossils in his Hell’s Creek, North Dakota backyard. He noticed a bone-like protrusion popping up from the ground, and pulled out not a funny looking rock or an old deer skeleton, but an ancient, mummified Hadrosaur—complete with skin and inner organs.
With this discovery, Tyler became a hero to all kids who hope and pray, irrational as it may be, to become an astronaut or a professional baseball player. Putting aside the fact that Tyler found one of the most important dinos of all time, what kid goes looking for fossils in his backyard and actually discovers something? Like, even a tailbone, or one of those ancient mosquitoes preserved in sap? I think most kids would call their fossil-hunting afternoon a success if they came home with an old Playboy, or a commemorative quarter.
After discovering the Hadrosaur, young Tyler alerted paleontologist Phil Manning, who teaches dino stuff at England’s University of Manchester. Upon seeing the mummified specimen, Philly uttered this eloquent statement: “Shiiit, that’s a really well preserved dinosaur. It has the potential to be a top-10 dinosaur, globally.”
Yep, that’s what he said after reaching the pinnacle of success in the career to which he has dedicated his life. Since the beginning of recorded history, human beings have shown themselves capable of great discovery quotes. Upon realizing that the volume of an irregular object could be found by measuring the water displaced by that object, Archimedes shouted “Eureka!” After seeing the destruction caused by Helen of Troy, the chorus of Agamemnon cried “Hell to ships, hell to men, hell to cities.” Even R. Kelly, in his modern day closet-trapped ballad of discovery (after discovery, after discovery…), managed this: “Now he’s staring at me like as if he was staring in a mirror… She says honey don’t lose control.”
But not Phil Manning. Once more, and this time remember that he has an English accent, the professor proclaimed “Shiiit, that’s a really well preserved dinosaur. It has the potential to be a top-10 dinosaur, globally.”
You can’t help but imagine him dressing the poor Hadrosaur up in ribbons and bows, maybe giving the ancient skin a few minutes at the tanning salon, and then dragging her around to dino pageants—top ten or bust! Ah, poor Dakota. Yes, Tyler and Phil decided to name the old gal Dakota. And knowing these two, its equally as likely a nod to the Hadrosaur’s hometown as it is to Dakota Fanning or that 1988 Lou Diamond Phillips movie.