Soft tissue in fossils still mysterious | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


Soft tissue in fossils still mysterious

Purported dinosaur soft tissue may be modern biofilms

7:04pm, July 29, 2008

Three years ago, a team of scientists rocked the paleontology world by reporting that they’d recovered flexible tissue resembling blood vessels from a 68-million-year-old dinosaur fossil. Now, another group suggests that such pliable material could be something much more mundane: a modern-day film of bacterial slime.

The variety of preserved tissues described in the 2005 report is impressive: After dissolving parts of a fossilized leg bone from a Tyrannosaurus rex, scientists found blood-vessel-like tubes; dark red spheres approximately the size of red blood cells; and small, elongated structures similar to osteocytes, the most common type of bone cell. Using the same technique, the team recovered similar structures from other dinosaur fossils as well. Subsequent analyses by many of the same scientists — including Mary H. Schweitzer, a paleontologist at North CarolinaStateUniversity in Raleigh —

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content