We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
How Have Dinosaur Blood Vessels Survived for Centuries?
News

How Have Dinosaur Blood Vessels Survived for Centuries?

How Have Dinosaur Blood Vessels Survived for Centuries?
News

How Have Dinosaur Blood Vessels Survived for Centuries?

Credit: Boatman et al. and Smithsonian Institute
Read time:
 

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "How Have Dinosaur Blood Vessels Survived for Centuries?"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

A team of scientists led by Elizabeth Boatman at the University of Wisconsin Stout used infrared and X-ray imaging and spectromicroscopy performed at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) to demonstrate how soft tissue structures may be preserved in dinosaur bones – countering the long-standing scientific dogma that protein-based body parts cannot survive more than 1 million years.

In their paper, the team analyzed a sample from a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex tibia to provide evidence that vertebrate blood vessels – collagen and elastin structures that don’t fossilize like mineral-based bone – may persist across geologic time through two natural, protein-fusing “cross-linking” processes called Fenton chemistry and glycation.

First, the scientists used imaging, diffraction, spectroscopy, and immunohistochemistry to establish that structures present in the sample are indeed the animal’s original collagen-based tissue. Then, Berkeley Lab co-authors Hoi-Ying Holman and Sirine Fakra respectively performed synchrotron radiation-based Fourier-transform infrared spectromicroscopy (SR-FTIR) to examine how the cross-linked collagen molecules were arranged, and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) mapping to analyze the distribution and types of metal present in T. rex vessels.

“SR-FTIR takes images and spectra of the same sample, and so you can reveal the distribution of protein-folding patterns, which helps to identify the possible cross-linking mechanisms,” said Holman, director of the Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared Structural Biology (BSISB) Imaging Program. Fenton chemistry and glycation are both non-enzymatic reactions – meaning they can occur in deceased organisms – that are driven by the iron present in the body.

“The XRF microprobe revealed the presence of finely crystalline goethite, a very stable iron oxyhydroxide mineral, on the vessels that likely contributed to the preservation of organic molecules,” said Fakra, an ALS research scientist.

The authors believe that the cross-linking reactions they found evidence of, combined with the protection offered from being surrounded by dense mineralized bone, can explain how original soft tissues persist.

Reference

Boatman et al. (2020) Mechanisms of soft tissue and protein preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex. Scientific Reports. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51680-1

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Advertisement