New evidence backs up claim of dinosaur soft tissue find

Jun 15, 2011 by Bob Yirka report
Tyrannosaurus rex femur (MOR 1125) from which demineralized matrix (insets; bars, 20 µm) and peptides were obtained. Image: PLoS ONE 6(6): e20381. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020381

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a new study, biochemist James San Antonio and colleagues offer evidence to support the claims by Mary Higby Schweitzer back in 2005, that she and her colleagues had unearthed a soft tissue specimen that belonged to a Tyrannosaurus rex. Roundly criticized by many in the science community, the specimen, discovered inside a femur fragment, has yet to be proven to be anything else. Now, in a paper published on PLoS ONE, San Antonio and his colleagues (including Mary Schweitzer) claim they’ve found a plausible explanation for the survival of soft dinosaur material after some 68 million years.

The team focused on bits of found in the remains, which are a group of proteins found in the flesh and bones of animals; it grows in a triple helix, which when it winds together, is known as a microfibril. When thousands of microfibril wind together, as they often do, they are known as microfibrils.

After carefully studying 11 fragments of collagen recovered from the T. rex bone and then comparing them to similar fragments in modern rat and human collagen, the team discovered that the found fragments all came from the same innermost part of the fibrils that make up microfibrils. San Antononio likens them to tiny fibers that sit at the very innermost part of a very thick strong rope.
In their paper, the research team suggests that because they were so tightly wound, the microfibrils could have survived over millions of years. They also note that the specimens also contained very few amino acids, which are very susceptible to decay.

To back up her claims, or to quiet the naysayers, Schweitzer points out that if the found were actually contaminants from other more recent organisms, as some have claimed, there should have been more randomness to the collagen, instead of the strict uniformity that was found. She also notes that two other labs have corroborated her results.
The unfortunate side story to all the research done so far though, including these latest findings, is that thus far there is no way to definitively prove whether the soft tissue found inside that T. rex bone was in fact a remnant from its original owner, or something that came after. Thus, claims from both those supporting the idea that dinosaur tissue could have survived for millions of years, and those that think it’s nonsense, are likely to continue.

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More information: San Antonio JD, Schweitzer MH, Jensen ST, Kalluri R, Buckley M, et al. (2011) Dinosaur Peptides Suggest Mechanisms of Protein Survival. PLoS ONE 6(6): e20381. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020381

Abstract
Eleven collagen peptide sequences recovered from chemical extracts of dinosaur bones were mapped onto molecular models of the vertebrate collagen fibril derived from extant taxa. The dinosaur peptides localized to fibril regions protected by the close packing of collagen molecules, and contained few acidic amino acids. Four peptides mapped to collagen regions crucial for cell-collagen interactions and tissue development. Dinosaur peptides were not represented in more exposed parts of the collagen fibril or regions mediating intermolecular cross-linking. Thus functionally significant regions of collagen fibrils that are physically shielded within the fibril may be preferentially preserved in fossils. These results show empirically that structure-function relationships at the molecular level could contribute to selective preservation in fossilized vertebrate remains across geological time, suggest a ‘preservation motif’, and bolster current concepts linking collagen structure to biological function. This non-random distribution supports the hypothesis that the peptides are produced by the extinct organisms and suggests a chemical mechanism for survival.

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User comments : 11

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chthonic
4 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
All shall be microfibril and all shall be microfibril and all manner of things shall be microfibril.
Yellowdart
1 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2011
Thus, claims from both those supporting the idea that dinosaur tissue could have survived for millions of years, and those that think its nonsense, are likely to continue.


Hey hey, let's not forget about those claims that dinosaurs aren't that old anyway! :)
kevinrtrs
1.4 / 5 (20) Jun 15, 2011
is that thus far there is no way to definitively prove whether the soft tissue found inside that T. rex bone was in fact a remnant from its original owner, or something that came after.

This is the crux of the matter then, isn't it? I think what it calls for is a thorough search for soft tissue in dino fossils and then using 3D non-invasive techniques to determine whether any non-dino material could have gotten into it.

My take on this story is simply that evolutionists are facing an insurmountable obstacle here and are looking for all kinds of escape routes, including the one that says it's foreign material inside the fossil bone.
There are other indicators, much more vivid, that dinos actually lived with birds, reptiles, foxes etc. Just go and make exhausting searches of the dino fossil beds and catalogue EVERYTHING found there. These other intrusions into those beds are not broadcast to the public or displayed in museums. Dinos fossils are not 60m years old. Period.
SCVGoodToGo
4.6 / 5 (11) Jun 15, 2011
Kevin, your ignorance is encyclopedic.
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (5) Jun 15, 2011
It's a pity they didn't find any T-Rex DNA. I know, maybe I'm dreaming. But this is still an exciting find, nonetheless.
jnj
5 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2011
I hope they are eventually able to clone some of these! Right now they are looking at the woolly mammoth.
mattytheory
3 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2011
"There are other indicators, much more vivid, that dinos actually lived with birds, reptiles, foxes etc. Just go and make exhausting searches of the dino fossil beds and catalogue EVERYTHING found there. These other intrusions into those beds are not broadcast to the public or displayed in museums. Dinos fossils are not 60m years old. Period."

So, what you're saying is that because we have found 30MYO fossils on top of or adjacent to fossils dated more than 65MYO that those animals somehow lived together? And, I am pretty sure those findings are published, and even displayed in museums, its just that the rest of the world doesn't consider 30MYO and 65MYO to be even remotely the same. But, you are right about ONE thing, dinosaurs aren't 60MYO... they are AT LEAST 65MYO. Period.
Peteri
3.7 / 5 (6) Jun 15, 2011
Dinos fossils are not 60m years old. Period


Quite right Kevin - they are in fact at least 65 million years old!

As to your other comment: "evolutionists are facing an insurmountable obstacle here and are looking for all kinds of escape routes, including the one that says it's foreign material inside the fossil bone." Hardly an insurmountable obstacle nor an escape route - that's just wishful thinking on your part! Palaeontologists of course need to eliminate the possibility of contamination - it would be bad scientific practice otherwise.
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (4) Jun 15, 2011
@jnj I hope that they're eventually able to clone extinct species too. But, so far, they haven't discovered any Dinosaur DNA. Or, if they have, it certainly hasn't been enough. I read an interesting article about reactivating the primitive genes in birds (and other animals) to re-create the dinosaurs (and other extinct creatures). I hope that they're eventually able to do this. That would be an exciting scientific endeavor.
Yellowdart
2 / 5 (4) Jun 17, 2011
So, what you're saying is that because we have found 30MYO fossils on top of or adjacent to fossils dated more than 65M that those animals somehow lived together?


I think he's referencing polystrata. Not that one is on top or adjacent, but that they overlap. The argument being that decay rate of exposed animals wouldn't survive waiting around for the upper layer forming to protect it.

Vertebrates pretty much make up only .25% of the fossil record that we currently have.

Ramael
5 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2011
Clone it and find out! MUAHAHAHA