I think we all know how this movie ends, too

Scientists see the softer side of Tyrannosaurus rex

When scientists found a massive Tyrannosaurus rex thigh bone in a remote region of Montana a few months ago, they were forced to break the bone in two in order to fit it into the transport helicopter. This act of necessity revealed a startling surprise: soft tissue that had seemingly resisted fossilization still existed inside the bone. This tissue, including blood vessels, bone cells, and perhaps even blood cells, was so well preserved that it was still stretchy and flexible.

A scanning electron microscope revealed that the dinosaur blood vessels, which are 70 million years old, are virtually identical to those recovered from modern ostrich bones. The ostrich is today's largest bird, and many paleontologists believe that birds are the living descendants of dinosaurs. Scientists may be able to confirm this evolutionary relationship if they can isolate certain proteins from the recently discovered T. rex tissue. These proteins could also help solve another puzzle: whether dinosaurs were cold-blooded like other reptiles or warm-blooded like mammals.

Does this discovery of soft dinosaur tissue mean that scientists will soon be able to clone a Tyrannosaurus rex? Probably not -- most scientists believe that DNA cannot survive for 70 million years. Then again, before this discovery, most scientists believed that soft tissue could not survive for 70 million years either.

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17 Responses:

  1. deificar says:

    NEAT! Start squating on small islands in the Carribean now! That realestate is gonna get pricey!

  2. edouardp says:

    Oooh, ahhhh!

  3. ladykalessia says:

    Hmm. Ostriches haven't been known to spontaneously change sex, right?

    I am imagining what a T-rex burger might taste like.

    • chuck_lw says:

      I'm trying to imagine having a whole farm of T-Rexes. And the most dangerous thing they do is attempt to peck the plaid off your shirt.:-)

      • ladykalessia says:

        Hm. Might be like chicken farming, where you have to incapacitate them to keep them from harming each other.

    • n_o_m_i_c says:

      I don't think so. That whole bit from Jurassic Park was modelled on frogs that spontaneously change sex.

  4. nightrider says:

    more here

    pretty neato.

    Although, I wonder why we haven't heard any further news from them after the discovery. It's been over a year. You think they'd have come up with a little more data.

    • scullin says:

      They probably got as far as "tastes like chicken" before realizing that was probably the wrong line of research to explore first.

  5. porphyre says:

    Paging Dr. Jane Tiptree. Paging Dr. Jane Tiptree. Your eggs are ready.

  6. howie_d_rivet says:

    God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs...

    • benediktus says:

      insert: god destroys hegel and nietzsche.
      append: man creates machine. dinosaurs & machine destroys man and form a symbiotic relationship. dinoborgs rule universe. god scrams.

  7. jonabbey says:

    Even if they were miraculously able to sequence a complete genome off of this, they'd be lacking the epigenetic context to develop one.

    It sure would be nice to have that DNA on file for comparative analysis, though.

    • sclatter says:

      I work on a gene that's conserved throughout animals. It struck me when my brother and I were wandering the dinosaur section of the museum that those dinosaurs had certainly had Maelstrom in their testes and ovaries. They'd had Hox genes, and Hedgehogs, histone variants and Vasa, Dicers and Argonautes and all that business. Somehow dinosaurs seemed a little more real to me all of a sudden.

  8. rantzilla says:

    Then again, before this discovery, most scientists believed that soft tissue could not survive for 70 million years either.

    Just think of all the hyper-wacko fundamentalist Christian Bible zealots who are going to cite this as an example that the earth really is not millions of years old. The tissue could not have possibly survived intact for that long, therefore it must be logically be from a more recent era, say just before the great flood, a mere few thousand years ago. The Bible is truth!

  9. mcfnord says:

    the briquettes are white hot so bring it over

  10. virtualmongoose says:

    t rex dna in bones?
    pfft whatever, i heard an interveiw with a guy isolating ancient antarctic sliverfish dna from ancient frozen snow petrel vomit. and not only is it totally true but snow petrels vomit as a defence mechanism against predators, how awesome it that?
    What evolution throws up