Researchers confirm original blood vessels in 80 million-year-old fossil

December 1, 2015
Researchers confirm original blood vessels in 80 million-year-old fossil
Blood vessels from deminineralized bone of Brachylophosaurus canadensis. Credit: M. Schweitzer, NC State University

Researchers from North Carolina State University have confirmed that blood vessel-like structures found in an 80 million-year-old hadrosaur fossil are original to the animal, and not biofilm or other contaminants. Their findings add to the growing body of evidence that structures like blood vessels and cells can persist over millions of years, and the data not only confirm earlier reports of protein sequences in dinosaurs, they represent a significant advance in methodology.

Molecular paleontologist Tim Cleland, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, began the work while a graduate student at NC State. He demineralized a piece of leg bone from a Brachylophosaurus canadensis, a 30-foot-long hadrosaur that roamed what is now Montana around 80 million years ago. Cleland analyzed the demineralized bone with high resolution mass spectroscopy and found several distinct proteins from the cellular components of the . One of these proteins, myosin, is found in the smooth muscles associated with the walls of blood vessels.

The researchers confirmed their results by performing the same process with bones from modern archosaurs, such as chicken and ostrich, which are living relatives of the dinosaurs. In both the modern and ancient samples, peptide sequences matched those found in blood vessels. Their methodology also allowed the researchers to validate previously reported sequences and recover additional sequences because only the vessels were extracted, which increased the observance of cellular proteins.

"This study is the first direct analysis of blood vessels from an extinct organism, and provides us with an opportunity to understand what kinds of proteins and tissues can persist and how they change during fossilization," Cleland says. "This will provide new avenues for pursuing questions regarding the evolutionary relationships of extinct organisms, and will identify significant protein modifications and when they might have arisen in these lineages."

Elena Schroeter, a at NC State, is a co-author who worked on the analysis of the . "Paleoproteomics is a challenging pursuit. It requires us to think about how to support our conclusions from different angles," says Schroeter. "This project is significant because it shows the power of using multiple experimental methods—as well as multiple ways to analyze the results of those methods—to address a scientific question."

"Part of the value of this research is that it gives us insight into how proteins can modify and change over 80 million years," says Mary Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at NC State and co-author of the paper describing the research. "It tells us not only about how tissues preserve over time, but gives us the possibility of looking at how these animals adapted to their environment while they were alive."

The findings appear in the Journal of Proteome Research.

Explore further: Study examines modifications that occur on proteins in natural environments over time

More information: Timothy P. Cleland et al. Mass Spectrometry and Antibody-Based Characterization of Blood Vessels from , Journal of Proteome Research (2015). DOI: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.5b00675

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3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 01, 2015
This study is the first direct analysis of blood vessels from an extinct organism,
I doubt it.
not rated yet Dec 01, 2015
I remember a scientist a while back who claimed that they had dino "meat" that so was so fresh blood was still flowing somewhat. I think they fired him.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2015
@barakn, fair enough, then what is it?
3 / 5 (2) Dec 02, 2015
This study is the first direct analysis of blood vessels from an extinct organism,
I doubt it.

I spent some time today going through related papers on Google Scholar. Paywalls were a hindrance, the best I can come up with about their claim was in the "analysis". Other researchers
have claimed to have identified blood vessels in fossils but without more details it's difficult to tell what makes their findings unique.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2015
@barakn, fair enough, then what is it?

Probably any animal that has gone extinct in the last 50 years when the last one lived in a zoo or was killed by a human...
1 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2015
Their findings add to the growing body of evidence that structures like blood vessels and cells can persist over millions of years,

This is a maliciously misleading statement. It's also completely unscientific.
Firstly, it should read "..growing body of evidence that structures like....are increasingly found in fossils which are THOUGHT to be millions of years old".
Secondly, when stating these findings, they should remind readers that till now the best preservation techniques yield a predicted maximum lifespan of about 100k for organic material because of chemical and physical deterioration.
Thirdly, the ages assigned to the fossils are a fabrication because there was no eye-witness account and record to confirm the birth of the fossil bed - in spite of the most sophisticated radiometric dating techniques. Radiometric dating techniques are notorious for not being able to deliver the ages of rock samples for which we absolutely know the birth date.
1 / 5 (7) Dec 02, 2015
Paleontologist Mary Schweitzer in 1997, 2005 and 2007 discovered soft tissue in dinosaurs. Schweitzer published a report on another sample in Science in 2009 this time from a hadrosaur, in which the precise characteristics of dinosaur biochemicals were verified by a third party. Recently the 2007 find has also been verified.
Further finds are in turtles, salamanders and lizards.

The point of all this is that since it's been shown that organic material can only persist for about 100k max, the ages assigned to the fossils must be suspect. To bolster that claim, research done on Carbon-14 content of dinosaur fossils confirms that all dinosaur samples tested contained Carbon-14.
One can only go so far in claiming "contamination" before the truth has to come out. This research finding was suppressed by the powers that be in that the author was prevented from addressing the community with the details. Google is your friend. I can't give it to you otherwise you'll claim it's false.
1 / 5 (3) Dec 02, 2015
Articles should have a few highlighted, numbered Sentences so that the Readers can pick those numbers to appear as Subjects in the Subject lines of E-mails to be sent to a friend.
1 type of E-mail may go to laymen & Another type of E-mail may be sent to an Expert friend etc.,
5 / 5 (7) Dec 03, 2015
FredJose, yes Google is you friend. Let's me find this quickly from an interview with Mary Schweitzer:

"One thing that does bother me, though, is that young earth creationists take my research and use it for their own message, and I think they are misleading people about it. Pastors and evangelists, who are in a position of leadership, are doubly responsible for checking facts and getting things right, but they have misquoted me and misrepresented the data. They're looking at this research in terms of a false dichotomy [science versus faith] and that doesn't do anybody any favors."

See more at: http://biologos.o...n3Z.dpuf

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