Scientists are still debating how to save the soft tissue in fossilized dinosaur bones. It is known that soft tissues such as blood vessels, cells and nerves, after the death of the body decompose very quickly. However, often paleontologists find dinosaur bones with the remains of organic structures. A group of scientists from the universities of Yale, Brussels and Bonn, as well as the American Museum of natural history closer to solving this issue. The results of their work published in the journal
According to the study, the fossilized bones of dinosaurs have in common with burnt toast – a chemical that turns the original proteins into something new.
“We are committed to understanding fossils of proteins, examined 35 specimens of fossil bones, egg shells and teeth, in order to understand whether they maintain the protein soft tissues, their chemical composition and to determine under what conditions they managed to survive for millions of years,” says the study’s author, Yasmina Wiman.
Because soft tissue was found in a sample oxidizing environment, such as sandstones and shallow marine limestones, the scientists decided to turn them into advanced glycation end products and lipid peroxidation – Advanced Glycoxidation and Lipoxidation end products (AGE and ALE). AGE and ALE – resistant to decay and destruction and structure comparable with chemical compounds that turn dark bark on toasted toast.
These compounds are also resistant to water and have properties that protect them from bacteria.
Scientists decalcified the fossil by applying combinational Microspectroscopy – non-destructive method for the analysis of both inorganic and organic sample – using existing soft tissue fossils. During this process, the laser energy directed to tissue, causes molecular vibrations, which are spectral traces for present chemicals.
“Our results show how chemical change explains the preservation of these soft tissues and determines the type of environment in which this process occurs. The main thing is to determine how the parameter settings in the area where this saving is likely to occur that will expand the evidence base of biology and ecology of ancient vertebrates,” said study co-author Derek Briggs.
According to scientists, their research, first of all, allow us to point to where the soft tissue can be found preserved in fossil bones, including sandstones, dunes, and shallow marine limestones.