Dinosaur protein extracted! Bring on Jurassic park!

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Dinosaur protein extracted! Bring on Jurassic park!


TRACES of protein have survived for more than 70 million years in dinosaur eggs from Argentina. They bear strong similarities to proteins from chicken eggs.

The Anacleto formation, in Auca Mahuevo in Patagonia, is famous for its spectacular preservation. The eggs were laid by massive long-necked plant-eaters called titanosaurs. Buried by floods, the eggs fossilised unusually fast, preserving the soft tissues and tiny bones within.

Mary Schweitzer at North Carolina State University in Raleigh injected rabbits with protein from either bird or dinosaur eggshells, collected the antibodies produced and tested whether they stuck to the other type of egg protein. Both types of antibody reacted to both proteins, indicating that they were similar (Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2004.2876).

Schweitzer now hopes to work out the sequence of amino acids in the ancient proteins.
By netchicken: posted on 23-3-2005

More on the topic...

Get this 70 million year of fossils with tissue? What does that say about the fossilization process? This is a really BIG discovery


... Quote:

Scientists Find Soft Tissue in T-Rex Bone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil dug out of a hunk of sandstone has yielded soft tissue, including blood vessels and perhaps even whole cells, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.

Paleontologists forced to break the creature's massive thighbone to get it on a helicopter found not a solid piece of fossilized bone, but instead something looking a bit less like a rock.

When they got it into a lab and chemically removed the hard minerals, they found what looked like blood vessels, bone cells and perhaps even blood cells.

"They are transparent, they are flexible," said Mary Higby Schweitzer of North Carolina State University and Montana State University, who conducted the study.

She said the vessels were flexible and in some cases their contents could be squeezed out.

"The microstructures that look like cells are preserved in every way," added Schweitzer, whose findings were published in the journal Science.

"Preservation of this extent, where you still have this flexibility and transparency, has never been seen in a dinosaur before." Feathers, hair and fossilized egg contents yes, but not truly soft tissue.

Studying the soft tissues may help answer many questions about dinosaurs. Were they cold-blooded like reptiles, warm-blooded like mammals, or somewhere in-between? How are they related to living animals?


"If we can isolate certain proteins, then perhaps we can address the issue of the physiology of the dinosaur," Schweitzer said.

Of course, the big question is whether it will be possible to see dinosaur DNA. "We don't know yet. We are doing a lot in the lab now that looks promising," Schweitzer said.
By netchicken: posted on 25-3-2005

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