From: Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News
Published July 1, 2009 11:35 AM

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."

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