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Soft Tissue Discovered In T-Rex Bone 345

Posted by kdawson
from the tastes-like-ostrich dept.
kubla2000 writes, "Paleontologists have discovered soft tissue inside the fossilized thigh bone of a T-Rex. The tissue included blood vessels, bone cells, and perhaps even blood cells." From the article: "When paleontologists find fossilized dinosaur bones during a dig, they usually do everything in their power to protect them, using tools like toothbrushes to carefully unearth the bones without inflicting any damage. However, when scientists found a massive Tyrannosaurus rex thigh bone in a remote region of Montana a few months ago, they were forced to break the bone in two in order to fit it into the transport helicopter. This act of necessity revealed a startling surprise: soft tissue that had seemingly resisted fossilization still existed inside the bone. This tissue... was so well preserved that it was still stretchy and flexible."
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Soft Tissue Discovered In T-Rex Bone

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:31PM (#16267467) Homepage
    I for one welcome our...

    *sigh* ...anyway...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    within 10 years there will be an accident at a small island.....
  • by blueadept1 (844312) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:31PM (#16267471)
    Does this mean I can have a t-rex as a pet in a few years? Please?
    • by gbulmash (688770) *
      "But when the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists."

      - Greg
    • by kilodelta (843627)
      Only way I'd want one is if they come in the sub-miniature size. Something about the size of a cat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Only if you promise to feed him the highest quality lawyers.
  • by solitas (916005) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:32PM (#16267473)
    The. Movies. Must. End. Here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "This is a sequel! I know this!"
  • by ruiner13 (527499) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:32PM (#16267479) Homepage
    Now all we need to do is fill in the missing pieces of the DNA with frog DNA to make them sterile and we can have an amusement park! It worked well in the movies. Wait, how did that end? I suggest we send Bush, Britany Spears, K-Fed and Nancy Grace to open the park ;)
  • by loose electron (699583) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:32PM (#16267489) Homepage
    Perhaps get Dolly the sheep to sign up as a surrogate mother?
  • duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by nih (411096) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:32PM (#16267499)
    god put that bone there to test our faith!
  • OLD Repost! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:33PM (#16267505)
    Dude, this is a YEAR OLD! And slashdot ran this exact same story last year. Look at the dates on the pictures!

            Credit: From Schweitzer et al., Science 307:1952-1955 (2005). Reprinted with permission from AAAS.

    Geez!
  • Makes you wonder (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:33PM (#16267511) Homepage
    You know, it really makes you wonder what sort of discoveries we miss out on because we take so much care to preserve the past. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we SHOULDN'T do that...I'm just saying that this is a perfect example of the sorts of spectacular discoveries we make when we break things a little. I know we have scanners that are getting pretty powerful these days...do we have any that can detect this sort of soft tissue beneath the bone? If so I think they should be standard equipment on any paleontological dig.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fred_A (10934)
      I know we have scanners that are getting pretty powerful these days...do we have any that can detect this sort of soft tissue beneath the bone? If so I think they should be standard equipment on any paleontological dig.
      I think they've already got hammers...

      It's pretty much all that they can afford anyway. Paleontology is fairly underfunded worldwide since nobody really seems to care what lurks in fossil strata. No money in it you see...
    • by nmb3000 (741169)
      You know, it really makes you wonder what sort of discoveries we miss out on because we take so much care to preserve the past.

      I know, I know, and I feel the same way. But no matter what we do, Slashdot editors just keep posting dupes!

      What kinds of discoveries are we missing out on because we're re-hashing stories over a year old? We may never know.
    • by deglr6328 (150198)
      "...do we have any that can detect this sort of soft tissue beneath the bone? If so I think they should be standard equipment on any paleontological dig."

      Yes. X-ray micro-computedtomographic scanning at what is rapidly approaching the submicron resolution level utilizing monochromatic intense collimated beams of synchrotron radiation coupled to high resolution scintillating film joined CCD detectors [inist.fr] is fully up to the task [nature.com]. But you'll have to bring the fossils to it [twanetwerk.nl].
  • by krell (896769) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:43PM (#16267633) Journal
    This is more like the recent bestseller "Tyrannosaur Canyon" by Douglas J Preston than it is like Jurassic Park. That book involves the discovery of a complete T Rex fossil with soft tissue.
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium&yahoo,com> on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:49PM (#16267709)
    This begs the most abvious question. What does T-Rex tast like?

    You make soup out of bones? Get it? T-Rex soup? Sigh, evermind...
  • This is a [slashdot.org] dupe [slashdot.org].

    Also, who the heck breaks an irreplacable multimillenially old object in two to fit it into a helicopter? It's almost as if they wanted to look inside for soft tissue...
    • I agree. Much better to leave it where it is to be eroded to little pieces that are too small to be of any use at all. Much better. {/sarcasm}
      • by Etherwalk (681268)
        I recall speculation at the time, though I'll admit I don't recall the details. It may have been that one of the people involved had been denied requests to drill into other bones in search of soft tissue? In any event, the point is that you preserve the object where it is and you find a better technique for transporting it. If it won't fit into a helicopter, put it in a big box and have the helicopter (or a heavier one) transport it that way. Or get a truck. You don't break an irreplacable object beca
  • by posterlogo (943853) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @02:52PM (#16267737)
    If the soft tissue really is dino tissue, instead of a post-mortem parasite or something, then I would hope the act of breaking the bone did not disturb it (and why in the world is "not fitting in helo" a good reason to break such a priceless artifact anyway???). That tissue is a great source of biological residue, the goldmine being DNA. But it's very easy to contaminate ancient DNA, so I hope they were *really* *really* careful when they broke that bone (*cringes*) and loaded it for transport.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      and why in the world is "not fitting in helo" a good reason to break such a priceless artifact anyway???).

      Perhaps because their budget didn't allow for a bigger/different helicopter.
      That is a serious answer.

      Fossils straight out of the field are really heavy and a T-Rex thigh bone is really big.

      You can't just strap that kinda weight to (one of) a helicopter's skids, assuming the helicopter had skids. Worse, most helicopters don't have weight bearing mounts for attaching nets to do a lift operation.

      Or maybe t

    • by bigtrike (904535)
      How does one break a T-Rex bone in the first place?
  • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @03:07PM (#16267889)
    It must've been masturbating....
  • by zecg (521666)
    Time to start cloning those babies and burying them.
  • How many bones sitting around in museums are preserved enough to contain soft tissue? Presumably this isn't incredible of a discovery. Do bones get routinely x-rayed when they're being cleaned up?
  • wtf? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @03:34PM (#16268117) Homepage
    when scientists found a massive Tyrannosaurus rex thigh bone in a remote region of Montana a few months ago, they were forced to break the bone in two in order to fit it into the transport helicopter.

    How is that a good reason?

  • by isny (681711) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @03:45PM (#16268215) Homepage
    Of course it's a year old. I've been brushing up on my Unix skills, just in case. What about you?
  • ...Slashdot readers cracked open a fosillized story from a year ago and found that there was still a discussion going on.
  • You slide so good with bones so fair
    You've got the universe reclining in your hair
    'Cos you're my baby, yes you're my love
    Oh girl I'm just a jeepster for your love
  • by M0b1u5 (569472) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @04:51PM (#16268801) Homepage
    The article doesn't say HOW IT SMELLED!

    This is the key point - surely? If it were rotten, then it would smell bloody awful (pun intended), and there'd by no chance of any DNA surviving. But what if it DID NOT smell awful? Surely that's an immediate indication of preservation?

    And if it did NOT smell, you'd only have a TINY window of opportunity to perform tests on it - before oxygen started to do its oxidising thing.

    Personally, I'd start placing bets with reputable gambling houses in the U.K. that a dinosaur will re re-constituted from ancestral DNA before 2050.

    I'm reminded of the line by Dr. Malcolm;

    "Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that's how it always starts. Then later there's running and screaming." See Signature. :)
  • by juanhf (167330) on Sunday October 01, 2006 @05:14PM (#16269001)
    This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a brief lecture by the world renowned paleontologist Jack Horner. It was his team that made the discovery of this T-Rex which was actually discovered by a guy named Bob and thus he named it B-Rex! They did have a problem lifting the thigh bone from the sight so they did have to cut it and they did discover soft tissue; they also discovered that the dinosaur bones actually were more similar to the structure found in avains (birds, chickens, etc) after decalsifying the soft tissue they found blood vessels and inside the blood vessels they did find red blood cells.

    From their discovery they were able to determine the sex of the dinosaur whose remains they had found (something to do with the build up of the bone and the soft tissue) - it was female. They also found that the bone structure had concentric circles much like a tree and thus they were able to tell the age of the dinosaur at the time of it's death (which was 18yrs old).

    In the end he concluded that we would not be able to re-construct a dinosaur solely from the DNA found in the red blood cells since only a few of the DNA strands were intact enough to do a proper analysis and since chicken DNA has about a million different DNA strands that we'd be a long way from making a real dinosaur... not to mention that we do not currently have the know how on how to convert DNA into a living organism!
    • If you could get a copy of that lecture and put it on line it would be _great_.

      Please to _not_ jump to the conclusion that DNA analysis will be futile. IMHO, quite the opposite.

      In all liklihood, if we have ANY DNA available it will be a miracle. However if there is some, then the "some" will vary from cell to cell.

      Thus if we map a large enough number of cells we can eventually build up the genome.

      In seismic its called "stacking". You take a noisy blurry picture that you sample many times over and you "stack" it. The noise cancels. You are left with the picture.

      Similarly, if you find any DNA at all, then if this is a fragment of what was in the cell to start with, and you have part of the picture.

      These fragments will overlap and from these overlaps you will eventually be able to make perhaps even a complete picture. An example of this process is "diff" which most here will recognise as a programmers tool.

      DNA is programming. Its molecular programming, but it is still programming.

      What makes me quiver is the idea that we might be able to build up the DNA patterns by painstakingly replicating the DNA in each isolated cell and then stitching these DNA fragments together by matching the common parts of fragments found in different cells. It would be worse than putting together a jigsaw puzzle with the picture face down on the table... but it should be doable.

      I suspect we will be able to tell that Dinos and Birds are, if not close cousins, then perhaps close 2nd cousins. In fact the birds by even be decendants. If decendants, then one would expect large amounts of dino DNA may still be found in bird DNA... and that it is just inactive or that its function is modified. The cell is a rather promiscous DNA xerox machine.

      To go way out on a limb... if we can sequence the DNA and stitch it together, then we may be able to find living cells with a biochemistry close enough to Dino DNA that we can in fact make a working cell. Clearly we would be inserting artificial DNA into a cell. But it doesn't matter where the DNA comes from and how it came about - what matters is the proper sequence of DNA bases.

      This is clearly along the idea that if you put enough monkeys in front of typewriters that they would create Shakespear's sonnets.

      Well - the DNA stitching won't be random. The question is how much of the original picture is still preserved.

      Every cell is a copy of every other cell in a given individual. As cells specialize they turn off some of the DNA. The DNA is still there.

      Maybe some day we will actually be able to create a working Dino cell. Creataceous park... HERE WE GO!

      Its an old story. I read the previous slashdot story last year. Probably our editors were bored on a Sunday morning and wanted to see if we would remember. Criticisms aside... your update is interesting.

      So.. what progress has been made in the DNA studies?

Wasn't there something about a PASCAL programmer knowing the value of everything and the Wirth of nothing?

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