Mummified Dino Yields Skin Molecules
The extremely well-preserved remains of a 66-million-year-old hadrosaur, known as a "dinosaur mummy," have just yielded soft-tissue skin structures and organic molecules, according to a new study.
While research on other dinosaurs has led to the identification of organic material linked to bones, co-author Roy Wogelius told Discovery News that "this is the first dinosaur to reveal intact skin structure and associated organic molecules."
Wogelius, a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, added, "We (also) seem to have some original organic material within the tendon."
The existing "skin," as described in a Proceedings of the Royal Society B paper this week, consists of a mixture of the original cellular components mixed with mineralized material.
"Imagine putting a bunch of grapes into a runny cement," he said. "If you let the cement set, and cut a cross section years later, you'd see a beautiful cast of a bunch of grapes --whether the grapes survived the process or not. Based on our observations and analysis, we think a mineralizing fluid acted very quickly to make a solid mineral (calcium carbonate or calcite) cast of the skin cells."
Article continues: http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/06/30/dinosaur-skin.html