We know the chances of anticipating dinosaur DNA are substantially nil. Despite new advances, the oldest genetic element of any animal that researchers have successfully extracted and sequenced is about 700,000 years old (Note: still impressive. Most impressive). DNA degrades and gets infested by germ and other gunk; it’s doubtful researchers will pull back that ancient DNA landmark much further.
But what if we told you they’ve found something potentially even better than DNA to give us insights into the Age of Dinosaurs?
Published today in Nature Communications, researchers managed to find justification of recorded protein in the fossilized rib of a 195-million-year-old dinosaur called Lufengosaurus.
Protein such as collagen has been found in dinosaur skeleton before, but what’s sparkling about this find is both the technique and the age: This hoary is more than 100 million years older than prior protein-preserving finds (including one published just last week).
Old Protein, New Method
Despite all the dinosaur skeleton paleontologists are adding to the hoary record annually, soothing hankie specimens are few and distant between. They need very sold conditions to have a possibility of being fossilized, such as form of lees and how fast it covers the carcass.
Even then, soothing tissues on their way to being recorded for posterity can get derailed by bacterial decay and other problems. Fossilized soothing hankie specimens are also some-more disposed to damage or even drop by the methods traditionally employed to study them.
The group operative on a rib of Lufengosaurus employed in situ synchrotron radiation-based Fourier renovate is anyone still reading this infrared microspectroscopy (SR-FTIR) which, in further to holding a really prolonged time to type, is a non-destructive way to demeanour inside a hoary and brand molecular structures shaped on their infrared fullness rope signatures.
Whew. Okay, now that I’ve used up all my big difference for the day, presumably the week, fundamentally they peeped the fossil’s innards with crazy-fine fortitude and a filter that allowed them to brand sold organic remains. In this case, collagen, which is essential for skin and junction tissue.
Using a second method, the researchers also identified hematite, which they trust was subsequent from the animal’s blood.
The participation of the hematite is critical since the group believes it may have allowed the collagen to be preserved. Once the blood pennyless down and hematite formed, it may have effectively hermetic off vascular canals — channels in the skeleton which, in life, embody blood vessels — and stable the collagen within from the outward world.
And no, researchers can’t counterpart a dinosaur from collagen, so greatfully stop emailing me and asking about that, but collagen can tell us a good understanding about the dinosaur and its evolutionary attribute to other animals. Today’s find advances paleontology on a molecular level, which is in itself flattering exciting.