Dinosaur rib bones reveal remnants of 195-million-year-old protein
Is fossilized rock all that remains when a dinosaur decomposes? New research from scientists at the University of Toronto and researchers in China and Taiwan provides the first evidence that proteins have been preserved within the 195-million-year-old rib of the sauropodomorph dinosaur Lufengosaurus.
|Skeleton of the 195-million-year-old dinosaur Lufengosaurus preserved as found in the ground |
in Yunnan Province, China [Credit: Robert Reisz]
The Canada-Taiwan research team, led by Reisz, used the synchrotron at the Taiwanese National Synchrotron Radiation Research Centre to find the substance in place, known as collagen type I, preserved within the tiny vascular canals of the rib where blood vessels and blood would be in the living dinosaur.
|Close up of oblique cut of the 195-million-year-old dinosaur Lufengosaurus rib showing how the bone was organized |
around vascular canals that contained blood vessels in the living dinosaur, and ran along the length of the rib
[Credit: Robert Reisz]
Reisz and his colleagues believe that these hematite particles were derived from the original blood of the dinosaur, and that they acted as the catalyst for preserving the protein in the vascular canals of the bone. These collagen pieces are probably remnants of the blood vessels that supplied blood to the bone cells in the living dinosaur.
thin section of of the 195-million-year-old dinosaur Lufengosaurus rib, cut along the length of the rib showing |
a vascular canal with dark hematite particles [Credit: Robert Reisz]
"Our localized search, in areas of the bone that are likely to preserve remnants of the original soft tissues, is more likely to succeed than previously used methods. This approach has great future potential, because localized searches will yield important results even when the amount of organic remains is miniscule."
up of a cross section of the Lufengosaurus rib, showing how the bone
was organized around vascular canals that |
contained blood vessels in the living dinosaur, and ran along the length of the rib [Credit: Robert Reisz]
This research allowed the scientists to find the collagen in place without dissolving the rest of the fossil, and it has helped them understand how the organic remains were preserved. Reisz believes that future explorations for even older proteins will be possible if this technique is used.
The study appears in the journal Nature Communications.
Author: Nicolle Wahl | Source: University of Toronto [February 01, 2017]