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Lookup NU author(s): Dr Geoffrey AbbottORCiD,
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).
© Saitta et al. Fossils were thought to lack original organic molecules, but chemical analyses show that some can survive. Dinosaur bone has been proposed to preserve collagen, osteocytes, and blood vessels. However, proteins and labile lipids are diagenetically unstable, and bone is a porous open system, allowing microbial/molecular flux. These ‘soft tissues’ have been reinterpreted as biofilms. Organic preservation versus contamination of dinosaur bone was examined by freshly excavating, with aseptic protocols, fossils and sedimentary matrix, and chemically/biologically analyzing them. Fossil ‘soft tissues’ differed from collagen chemically and structurally; while degradation would be expected, the patterns observed did not support this. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed that dinosaur bone hosted an abundant microbial community different from lesser abundant communities of surrounding sediment. Subsurface dinosaur bone is a relatively fertile habitat, attracting microbes that likely utilize inorganic nutrients and complicate identification of original organic material. There exists potential post-burial taphonomic roles for subsurface microorganisms.
Author(s): Saitta ET, Liang R, Lau MCY, Brown CM, Longrich NR, Kaye TG, Novak BJ, Salzberg SL, Norell MA, Abbott GD, Dickinson MR, Vinther J, Bull ID, Brooker RA, Martin P, Donohoe P, Knowles TDJ, Penkman KEH, Onstott T
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Online publication date: 18/06/2019
Acceptance date: 12/05/2019
Date deposited: 14/05/2019
ISSN (electronic): 2050-084X
Publisher: eLife Sciences Publications Ltd
PubMed id: 31210129
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