Saturday, March 26, 2005

soft tissues from a Tyrannosaurus rex ?

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | T. rex fossil has 'soft tissues': "Dr Schweitzer is not making any grand claims that these soft traces are the degraded remnants of the original material - only that they give that appearance.
She and other scientists will want to establish if some hitherto unexplained fine-scale process has been at work in MOR 1125, which was pulled from the famous dinosaur rocks of eastern Montana known as the Hell Creek Formation.

'This may not be fossilisation as we know it, of large macrostructures, but fossilisation at a molecular level,' commented Dr Matthew Collins, who studies ancient bio-molecules at York University, UK.
'My suspicion is this process has led to the reaction of more resistant molecules with the normal proteins and carbohydrates which make up these cellular structures, and replaced them, so that we have a very tough, resistant, very lipid-rich material - a polymer that would be very difficult to break down and characterise, but which has preserved the structure,' he told the BBC.
But if there are fragments, at least, of the original dinosaur molecules, their details could provide new clues to the relationship between T. rex and living species, such as birds. "

Inevitably, people will wonder whether the creature's DNA might also be found. But the "life molecule" degrades rapidly over thousand-year timescales, and the chances of a sample surviving from the Cretaceous are not considered seriously.

But there is human DNA in the 5 to 7000 year old time scale and nature never fails to surprise.


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