“it is very amazing, it is utterly shocking because it flies in the face of everything we understand about how cells and tissues degrade” –Mary H. Schweitzer
Broken Bone Leads to Discovery of Soft Tissues
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 25, 2005; Page A01
Paleontologists have recovered what appear to be soft tissues from the thighbone of a 70 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex, potentially enabling dinosaur research to make a leap into studying the animals’ physiology and perhaps even their cell biology, the research team said yesterday.
Working with the remains of a T. rex unearthed in northeastern Montana’s celebrated Hell Creek formation, the paleontologists spied the soft tissue when they were forced to break the thighbone into pieces to fit it aboard a helicopter.
Once in the lab, the team systematically removed mineralized deposits from the bone, exposing blood vessels, bone cells and possibly intact blood cells with their nuclei. “The tissues are still soft, transparent and flexible, and we can manipulate the vessels with our probe,” said team leader Mary H. Schweitzer of North Carolina State University.