In DepthPaleontology

Signs of ancient proteins seen inside dinosaur bones

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Science  12 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6240, pp. 1184
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6240.1184

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Fossil hunters have long looked for bits of organic matter in ancient bones, hoping to learn about the organisms they're studying. But most proteins and other organic matter completely decay within hundreds to thousands of years after the animal has died. Ten years ago, researchers in the United States reported that they had found surviving bits of proteins in 68-million-year-old dinosaur bones. But independent researchers have yet to confirm the result. Now, researchers in the United Kingdom report that they, too, have spotted surviving organic matter in eight dinosaur fossils that have been sitting in London's Natural History Museum for a century. If true, it holds out hope that organic matter in dinosaur fossils may be much more common than once thought. But the researchers have yet to prove that the proteins they have found indeed belong to the original dinosaur and not contaminants.