Scientists discover soft tissue in dinosaur bones

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

The fossilized skull of a T-rex

T-rexes were about 2,5 times the height of humans

Scientists have uncovered soft bone tissue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex known as MOR 1125, found in a sandstone formation in Montana.

MOR 1125 was 18 years old when it died, 65 million years ago. Similar tissue of a dinosaur has never been found before, as all remains found until now were fosilized. The tissue still contains microscopic structures resembling bloodvessels and cells. The comparison between the structures found in the T-rex and a modern day Ostrich shows a remarkable similarity. The results have been duplicated with an 80-million-year-old hadrosaur and two other tyrannosaurs. The discovery was reported in today’s issue of Science.

Results similar to the popular film “Jurassic park” are unlikely, as the recovery of DNA from the tissue is improbable. The results remain astounding, however, and tests with antibodies that react to collagen shows the tissue may still contain proteins. “Ultimately if we could establish chemical composition, we would have insights into all kinds of things: diet, sexual maturity, whether the specimen is the male or female.”, paleontologist Hans-Dieter Sues said.

Richard A. Hengst of Purdue University said the finding “opens the door for research into the protein structure of ancient organisms, if nothing else. While we think that nature is conservative in how things are built, this gives scientists an opportunity to observe this at the chemical and cellular level.”

Matthew Carrano, curator of dinosaurs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, said the discovery was “pretty exciting stuff.” “You are actually getting into the small-scale biology of the animal, which is something we rarely get the opportunity to look at.”

Sources