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Dinosaur Fossil Found With Preserved Soft Tissue 248

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the begun-the-clone-wars-have dept.
damn_registrars writes "A fossilized hadrosaur has been uncovered in South Dakota that has preserved soft tissue. This is described as a "mummified" dinosaur, and allows for a look at the skin and musculature of some parts of this animal. The find was reported by a 24 year old Yale graduate student of paleontology."
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Dinosaur Fossil Found With Preserved Soft Tissue

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  • Well, damn (Score:4, Informative)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:26PM (#21560757) Homepage Journal
    From the summary, I was hoping it would be actual dinosaur jerky. But it's actually fossilized tissue -- neat, and a rare find, but not enough for any actual biochemistry.
  • No clone wars (Score:5, Informative)

    by oboreruhito (925965) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:29PM (#21560781)
    RTFA. There's no DNA; the fossilization process was fast enough to fossilize soft tissue. It's not organic material.

    Although it is described as "mummified," the 65 million-year-old duckbilled dinosaur that scientists have named Dakota bears no similarity to the leather-skinned human mummies retrieved from ancient tombs in Egypt. Time long ago transformed Dakota's soft tissue into mineralized rock, preserving it for the ages.

    "It's a dinosaur that was turned into stone, essentially," said Lyson, 24, now a graduate student in paleontology at Yale University.
  • Not real soft tissue (Score:4, Informative)

    by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:31PM (#21560797)
    This isn't like that other discovery where what appeared to be red tissue was found inside a bone. This is just fossilized soft tissue. No soft tissue is present, just the mineral representation of what the tissue would have looked like, its structure, etc.
  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:34PM (#21560851)
    FYI, this has happened a few times before. PBS Nova Science Now recently did a piece on something similar.

    Watch Online:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3411/01.html [pbs.org]
  • Re:Question (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:49PM (#21560991)
    Dinosaurs can be big. Really big. I mean, you may think ...

    Oh, wait, wrong analogy. Seriously though, the phrase that is most relevant to answering your question is in the article: "10-ton block", plus another 4 tons, which they whittled down to "only" 5 tons in total. This is not your usual fossil extraction task. It can take significant money and time to set up what is needed to excavate a find that big, you have to transport it, and you have to find a spot for it back in the lab after you do extract it. This is back-breaking, painstaking work, and getting together a big enough chain gang^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H I mean group of volunteers to do the job isn't always easy, especially when there may be a dozen other sites in the region where excavations are already under way, and to which the resources you have are already allocated. So, sometimes a site gets marked with its GPS coordinates and hidden until the resources are available. Also, sometimes you have to start the excavation before you really realize the importance of what you have found. That seems to be the case for this specimen, based on the comments in the article. They didn't originally realize how special it was.

    So, yeah, what you describe is common, especially in areas that are both remote and prolific, and especially for large dinosaur specimens. It can take years.
  • RTFL (Score:3, Informative)

    by mangu (126918) on Monday December 03, 2007 @12:51PM (#21561017)

    is that a crack pot news site run by ID proponents, a joke site like the onion, or a real news site that's just running a crackpot story?

    Let me guess, that link mentions "the Discovery Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Seattle with affiliates operating at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C." and "we know Velociraptor was a vegetarian, as can be clearly deduced from its long rows of razor-sharp teeth, perfectly designed for tearing leaves from trees or rooting for truffles and other buried delicacies, and could therefore be domesticated at very low risk."


    Looks like alternative [B - Joke site] is the most probable one.

  • by afedaken (263115) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:15PM (#21561319) Homepage
    Chicken.
  • by dannannan (470647) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:26PM (#21561481)
    This is not the first time they've found soft dinosaur tissue in the Dakotas. Maybe the submitter was confusing this with an earlier soft tissue find in South Dakota [newscientist.com].
  • Re:Dino DNA (Score:3, Informative)

    by langelgjm (860756) on Monday December 03, 2007 @01:40PM (#21561633) Journal

    Apologies for replying to my own post, but I managed to find the article I mentioned. There were two, actually: "Golenberg EM. 1991. Amplification and analysis of Miocene plant fossil DNA. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B 333:419-427." and "Golenberg EM, Giannasi E, Clegg M, Smiley CJ, Durban M, Henderson D and Zurawski G. 1990. Chloroplast sequence from a Miocene magnolia species. Nature 344:656-658." Golenberg believed he had sequenced a 770 base pair nucleotide chain from a 20 million year old leaf. The findings were later discredited by Svante Paabo [wikipedia.org], the well-known paleogeneticist.

  • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by Headw1nd (829599) on Monday December 03, 2007 @06:57PM (#21565557)
    The cans he's talking about are buried at the edges of the excavation as it's being filled in, in order to define the limits of the previous trench. Then when you come back the next year you can quickly remove your fill dirt. The idea is to use something unmistakably modern (i.e. not a rock). You wouldn't pick them up unless you were digging at the site. If you're digging for litter, well, I admire your dedication, but you're being overzealous.
  • by LiquidMind (150126) on Monday December 03, 2007 @07:54PM (#21566077)

    It didn't work out and they had to re-release Classic Mexico
    Which is why we'll market it as New Mexico. Then, when everyone hates it, we'll bring back Mexico Classic and make billions! (source [imsdb.com])

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