Dinosaur Rib Bone Yields Oldest Evidence Of Soft Tissue

Posted: Feb 1 2017, 6:00am CST | by , Updated: Feb 1 2017, 6:04am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Dinosaur Rib Bone Yields Oldest Evidence of Soft Tissue
A thin section of the rib of the 195 million year old dinosaur Lufengosaurus. Credit: Robert Reisz
 

The plant-eating dinosaur that lived 195 million years ago provides what may be the oldest preserved soft tissue ever recorded

Finding soft tissues in dinosaur fossil is extremely rare. Most of the organ remains and soft structures degrade soon after an animal dies. However, a team of international researchers has recently identified genuine fossilized soft tissues from the rib of a long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur that lived around 195 million years ago. And researchers believe these are the oldest remains of soft tissues ever recorded. 

The finding lends support to the idea that soft tissues can survive millions of years longer than originally believed and promises a chance to study the biology and evolution of long-extinct animals at molecular levels.

“We have shown the presence of protein preserved in a 195 million-year-old dinosaur, at least 120 million years older than any other similar discovery,” said study co-author Robert Reisz of from University of Toronto Mississauga.

“These proteins are the building blocks of animal soft tissues, and it's exciting to understand how they have been preserved.”

In the study, researchers have scanned a rib bone of Lufengosaurus - a dinosaur which lived during the Early Jurassic period in what is now southwestern China. Those dinosaurs would grow up to 26 feet.

By shining photon beam across the bone, the insides of the bone, specifically its chemical contents, were observed. Researchers found that tiny canals of the rib contain structures closely resembled collagen proteins and concluded they were probably remnants of the blood vessels that supplied blood to the bone cells in the living dinosaur.

Earlier this week, researchers have confirmed the existence of collagen protein in the fossil record of 80-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur. But the latest discovery goes back even fur¬ther in time and can provide rare clues about the biology of dinosaurs. 

“To find proteins in a 195-million-year-old dinosaur fossil is a startling discovery. It almost sounds too good to be true, but this team has used every method at their disposal to verify their discovery, and it seems to hold up.” Stephen Brusatte from University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the study, told BBC News

“This discovery tells us that yes, you really can probably preserve soft, microscopic proteins inside dinosaur bones for tens or hundreds of millions of years. And that opens up entirely new avenues for studying dinosaurs.”

The study was published in journal Nature Communications.

 

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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