Scientists Confirm Existence Of Collagen Protein In 80-Million-Year Old Dinosaur Fossil

Posted: Jan 24 2017, 5:22am CST | by , Updated: Jan 24 2017, 5:29am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Scientists Confirm Existence of Collagen Protean in 80-Million-Year Old Dinosaur Fossil
Femur or thigh bone of Brachylophosaur canadensis recovered from Montana. Credit: Mary Schweitzer
 

Finding soft tissue in a fossil can help better understand the biology of dinosaurs and their relation with different species

In 2009, researchers from North Carolina State University reported the detection of soft tissue remnants in 80 million year old dinosaur fossil. Since soft tissues and cell-like structures in fossil remains are very rare and far fewer in number, the finding stirred a lot of confusion among researchers. 

Thanks to improved method and technology, the controversial discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur fossil has finally been confirmed. Latest findings not only support results from initial analysis but also suggest that collagen protein can survive in specimens tens of millions of years longer than originally thought.

“Mass spectrometry technology and protein databases have improved since the first findings were published, and we wanted to not only address questions concerning the original findings, but also demonstrate that it is possible to repeatedly obtain informative peptide sequences from ancient fossils.” Elena Schroeter, a researcher from NC State University said

The soft tissue belonged to Brachylophosaurus Canadensis, a type of hadrosaur or duck-billed dinosaur that existed in the area of Montana around 80 million years ago. The femur bone of dinosaur was originally discovered in 2007 with an intact soft tissue, which would otherwise decay over time. This was potentially ancient protein although researchers required further evidence to confirm their existence.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in an animal body. It is mostly found in the flesh and connective tissues of the body. The latest analysis was conducted on 8 collagen sequences extracted from dinosuar bone, including two that were identical to those recovered in 2009.

The discovery may cause researcher to rethink how fossils are preserved and may help them understand the biology of dinosaurs and their evolutionary relationship with other animals. 

“Our purpose here is to build a solid scientific foundation for other scientists. We've shown that it is possible for these molecules to preserve,” said professor of biological sciences Mary Schweitzer, who was also involved in the original study.

“Now, we can ask questions that go beyond dinosaur characteristics. For example, other researchers in other disciplines may find that asking why they preserve is important.”

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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