In 2005 paleontologist Mary Schweitzer found the first evidence for soft tissues in a dinosaur bone. Blood vessels, red blood cells, and soft and stretchy ligaments were found in the bone. Also proteins like collagen, hemoglobin, osteocalcin, actin, and tubulin were found. And Schweitzer has even recovered fragments of the more fragile and complex molecule, DNA. These are complex molecules that continually tend to break down to simpler ones. The bone was said to be 68 million years old according to the geologic time scale. Schweitzer was the first researcher to identify and isolate soft tissues (such as collagen, a connective protein) from an ancient fossil bone (Appendix A).
Soft tissue has also been extracted from bones that are assumed to be from the Jurassic period which lasted from 145-200 million years. And in 2015 fibers and cellular structures were discovered preserved in 75 million year old dinosaur specimens. Both of these ages are assigned according to the geological time scale. Typically an animal’s remains mineralize as they decay, so most specimens of this supposed age consist of inorganic material. (more…)