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Collagen Preserves Found in Dinosaur Bones

Update Date: Feb 04, 2017 10:02 AM EST

Scientists have recently discovered collagen preserved in a 195-million-year-old rib of the long-necked dinosaur, the Lufengosaurus. This discovery contradicts the notion that soft tissues are short-lived and cannot be preserved.

LA Times reported that protein segments were found from Lufengosaurus fossil. This dinosaur belonged to a genus that probably walked on two legs instead of the usual four-legged beasts. The scientists used a process called the confocal Taman spectroscopy to see the insides of the bones in detail. Removing the sample from the bone could potentially damage the sample so the above process was used instead.

Fragments of the soft tissues were found within the ribs of the Lufengosaurus, most likely from the collagen located in the bone's vascular canals. Collections of hematite, an iron oxide that is produced from hemoglobin and other iron-rich proteins that come from the dinosaur's red blood cells. The iron in the bones might have acted as an antioxidant, thus preventing the proteins inside the bones from decaying further.

Science Daily further discuss that the mass spectrometry technology and protein databases have further improved since earlier tests. This also demonstrates the possibility of repeatedly obtaining peptide sequences from ancient fossils such as the ones discovered from the Lufengosaurus.

Professor of biological sciences from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Mary Schweitzer also claims their desire to confirm earlier findings pertaining to the original dinosaur collagen that has been earlier reported in 2009.

A collagen is a form of protein and peptides that serve as the building blocks of proteins. The recent discovery of peptides in these dinosaur fossils is paving the way for researches to be able to identify the evolutionary relationships between the dinosaurs of the past and the modern animals of today.

The characteristics of collagen protein in these animals have become a factor that allowed it to be preserved over a million years, opening several other possibilities in discovering this more about this genealogy.

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