In DepthPaleontology

Researchers close in on ancient dinosaur proteins

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Science  03 Feb 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6324, pp. 441-442
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6324.441

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It's not quite Jurassic Park: No one has revived long-extinct dinosaurs. But two new studies suggest that it is possible to isolate protein fragments from dinosaurs much further back in time than ever thought possible. One study, led by Mary Schweitzer, a paleontologist from North Carolina State University in Raleigh who has chased dinosaur proteins for decades, confirms her highly controversial claim to have recovered 80-million-year-old dinosaur collagen. The other paper suggests that protein may even have survived in a 195-million-year-old dino fossil. Previous such claims were met with howls of skepticism, and some researchers are still doubtful. But other outsiders say that, taken together, the papers have the potential to transform dinosaur paleontology into a molecular science, much as analyzing ancient DNA has revolutionized the study of human evolution.