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Scientists Examine Dinosaur Skin 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the beyond-wrinkled dept.
jd writes "Fossilized skin from a dinosaur in China is allowing paleontologists a better understanding of what dinosaur skin was like. A tear, caused by a predator, shows that below the scales of the Psittacosaurus was a thick hide comprised of 25 layers of collagen. Other than the multitude of layers, this is very similar in nature to modern shark skin. The gash caused by a predator allowed the skin and the soft interior to be fossilized along with the bones. This is not the same dinosaur that had been reported previously on Slashdot, which was found in South Dakota, although the process and extent of fossilization is very similar."
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Scientists Examine Dinosaur Skin

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  • It's interesting to me that over the millions of years of evolution life has gone through, we're still using the same basic outlines for anatomy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by clsours (1089711)
      Well, evolution isn't really all that good at creating new things, but is very good at retaining good designs.
      • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tatisimo (1061320) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @03:10AM (#21980852)
        Reading the 'Origin of Species' gives great insight into those ideas. It's gives pretty interesting explanations (though a bit outdated) on why some species seem to revert to old forms (such as why whales look like fish), and why some useful features stay the same through the ages seemingly unchanged. Go on, get it and take it one idea at a time. It's available to everyone as a free audiobook [librivox.org] or free text [gutenberg.org]
        • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

          by WiFiBro (784621) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @06:36AM (#21981718)
          Additionaly "Climbing Mount Improbable" by Richard Dawkins gives a great overview of the various eye in the animal kingdom. Interesting bits are how the eye apparently developed along several lines, and how a choice made early in evolution can hardly be undone, such as the blood vessels being in front of the retina in the eyes of vertrebrates. (Or wait, God did that to protect the retina.)
          • by Empiric (675968)
            Alternately, both premises are true concurrently.

            Just thought I'd mention it, because I know how Dawkins loves his false dichotomy fallacies.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gnick (1211984)
        Well put - This is certainly interesting, but it would have been more surprising to learn that they had some completely different and unique skin structure. Sharks and many reptiles have been around a helluva long time because they're very well adapted to their niches.
        ---
        On a side note, I find it pleasantly surprising that Firefox's spell-check happily accepted 'helluva'.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by skeftomai (1057866)
        Creationist nonsense...marked interesting???
    • by theMerovingian (722983) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @03:28AM (#21980938) Journal

      A tear, caused by a predator, shows that below the scales of the Psittacosaurus was a thick hide comprised of 25 layers of collagen.

      It's like I always say, 25 layers of collagen just isn't enough if you can't outrun your predators.

    • by mrbluze (1034940)

      Other than the multitude of layers, this is very similar in nature to modern shark skin.
      A bit like the skin of a Vista versus an Expi, or a Leopard and Tiger, or a Gibbon and a Faun.
    • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

      by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:29AM (#21981170)
      First, life has gone through BILLIONS of years, not just million. Secondly, mammals and reptiles are very closely related. And finaly, (almost ?) all multicellular species that existed in the last 2 billion years use collagen to make their cells stick together.
      • by Gerzel (240421)
        Yes but life is Millions of years old, as well as Billions. Get enough Millions and you start getting billions.

        • by dissy (172727)

          Yes but life is Millions of years old, as well as Billions. Get enough Millions and you start getting billions.
          But isnt that like saying you are only a year old. Get enough years and you start getting to your real age?
          • by LordMidge (861667)
            Nope due to the judicious use of a 's'.

            What it would be like saying is.

            'But isn't that like saying you are only years old. Get enough years and you start getting to your real age?'

            And that finished this quite pointless post.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by genner (694963)
            No it's like saying I'm only days old.
            10,585 days to be exact.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pnewhook (788591)

        First, life has gone through BILLIONS of years, not just million. Secondly, mammals and reptiles are very closely related. And finaly, (almost ?) all multicellular species that existed in the last 2 billion years use collagen to make their cells stick together.

        That's a little misleading. Yes life has been around for billions of years but only primitive celled organisms and bacteria. Thefirst complex life including the first fishes, corals, trilobites and shellfish only appeared in the Cabrian period which

        • Yes, but the OP seemed to generalize from the common points between dinausors that existed roughly 100 million years ago and modern mammals to some kind of universality. Repiles and mammals share a lot of things (in particular general anatomy) because they have a not so distant common ancestor (and the differences beside milk production are not that absolute: the platypus lays eggs while some reptiles are warm-blooded or take care of their offspring.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MightyMartian (840721)
          This is incorrect. The first complex multicellular life (excluding various colonial bacteria and the like, which have been around a lot longer) appear in the Ediacaran period about 600-610 million years ago. It's an all-too-common myth that the Cambrian Explosion represents the origins of such life.
        • The first complex life including the first fishes, corals, trilobites and shellfishes only appeared in the Cambrian period which started about 542 (±1) Ma
          There, fixed that for you.
    • by Yetihehe (971185) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:57AM (#21981292)
      More interesting is a question how much earlier than europeans chinese began fossilizing their dinosaurs
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by amRadioHed (463061)
        Not surprising if you've ever been to a market in chinatown. They are very much into preserving animals of all kinds in as many ways as possible.
        • Not surprising if you've ever been to a market in chinatown. They are very much into preserving animals of all kinds in as many ways as possible.

          Shouldn't that be "serving" and not "preserving"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Morty (32057)

      It's interesting to me that over the millions of years of evolution life has gone through, we're still using the same basic outlines for anatomy.

      100 million years is the recent past, in evolutionary terms. See the Timeline of evolution [wikipedia.org].
      Single-celled life evolved about 4 billion years ago. The even bigger leap to multi-celled life was 1 billion years ago. By 100 million years ago, we already had all the big developments except human brains: plants, fish, insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, and

      • You might find this page intriguing:

        http://www.bible.ca/tracks/taylor-trail.htm [bible.ca]

        Sample:

        "Here is a photo of the Paluxy River in Glen Rose Texas. This rapidly flowing river runs through the middle of Dinosaur Valley State Park, famous for its dinosaur tracks. Not as well known is the fact that human tracks have also been found, not only in the same formation, but on the same bedding plane and in some cases overlapping the dinosaur tracks."
        • by Raenex (947668)
          You might find this page interesting:

          http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/paluxy/tsite.html [talkorigins.org]

          Sample:

          "Since the above article was published in early 1986 most creationists have largely abandoned the "man track" claims regarding the Taylor Site and most other Paluxy sites. However, in 1987 Carl Baugh and Don Patton began making claims that the Taylor Tracks were dinosaur tracks with human tracks within them. Such claims have been found to be as unsupported by the evidence as the original "man track" claims, and are
    • It's interesting to me that over the millions of years of evolution life has gone through, we're still using the same basic outlines for anatomy.
      Which basically tells us how great those outlines are. Why would evolution mess with something that's so beautifully adaptive to the environment?
    • Actually, the millions of years between the dinosaurs and now aren't really that much in terms of our entire evolutionary history.
    • It's interesting to me that over the millions of years of evolution life has gone through, we're still using the same basic outlines for anatomy.

      The reason we think this is because of our perspective. Stand back and look and then it's different. Live has existed on earth for maybe 4 billion years. Dinosaurs lived 160 million years ago. 160 million yeas is only four percent of the total time life has existed on Earth.
  • Food Nerd Alert (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Misanthrope (49269) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @02:35AM (#21980662)
    Imagine the amount of gelatin dinosaur stock would contain, it'd put veal shanks to shame.
  • When I read the summary my first thought was "it could be a fake" [paleodirect.com].

    -:sigma.SB

    • Then clearly this is proof of Intelligent Deception.
       
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They'd better hide it because dinosaur skin is a well known remedy for bladder infections.
    • by rve (4436)
      Exactly my thought.

      A remarkable fossil fetches the finder many times the average annual income of that region, while a 'common' fossil isn't worth all that much. The temptation is just too great for an artist to resist 'improving' a common fossil.

      It's an ancient tradition too, in the colonial age, traders sometimes brought back stuffed unicorns and mermaids bought in China. For this reason, when the first stuffed Platypus was sent back to Europe, the sample was first assumed to be a Chinese fake.
  • Suddenly? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shmackie (1049632)
    How was the flesh preserved, and not eaten by microbes?
    Suddenly covered by sediment seems like odd explanation.

    Like there was all of a sudden a large amount of water full of particulates put on top of this land dwelling animal. Then allowed to settle.
    Weird
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      How was the flesh preserved, and not eaten by microbes? Suddenly covered by sediment seems like odd explanation.

      If this was Trek, I would propose interference from tachyon particles as the culprit.
           
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RuBLed (995686)

      How was the flesh preserved, and not eaten by microbes? Suddenly covered by sediment seems like odd explanation.
      The dinosaur was probably buried by his kin after his death. I'm sure the culprit was arrested afterwards and brought to justice...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by amRadioHed (463061)
      It may seem like an odd explanation, but keep in mind that fossils are ridiculously rare. If it weren't for freak accidents we wouldn't have any fossils at all.
    • by hhas (990942)
      "Like there was all of a sudden a large amount of water full of particulates put on top of this land dwelling animal."

      Must've missed that memo from Noah.
    • Fossil finds do seem a little suspicious lately. Someone points out that the display at a museum is actually the bones from several species, then *poof*, someone digs up an intact skeleton. Someone starts a debate about dinosaurs having feathers, and then *poof*, someone finds fossil feathers. Someone makes a movie about dinosaur DNA, and then a year or two later, *poof*, soft tissue remains. And what's up with dinosaur footprints? Mountain ranges came and eroded away, oceans have wandered around, yet
      • by omris (1211900)
        it's not QUITE that bad, but archaeology has always been more in the eye of the beholder than some science branches. the things they are looking at are so easy to miss, that you'd never see them if you weren't thinking to look. very carefully. whereas before we assumed that funky swirl pattern was nothing , once the idea of it being the imprint of a feather is proposed, it becomes easier to notice the things that were probably there all along and missed.

        it's important to remember that fossils are RARE.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by micromuncher (171881)
      There are lots of environmental conditions that can discourage decomposition. Cold, pressure, alkalinity, acidity, salinity, [lack of] humidity, etc. Think of bogs and bitumen (tar pits).
  • by Tablizer (95088) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @02:58AM (#21980760) Homepage Journal
    This is not the same dinosaur that had been reported previously on Slashdot

    Somebody's a bit sensitive about dupes ;-)
           
  • by mad-seumas (59267) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @03:17AM (#21980882)
    If only they'd built them with 26 layers!
  • by DreamerFi (78710) <{john} {at} {sinteur.com}> on Thursday January 10, 2008 @03:23AM (#21980916) Homepage
    You mean we can mount a frikking laser on them?
  • Saddle? (Score:1, Funny)

    by aaronfaby (741318)
    Did they find the saddle that Jesus used to ride the dinosaur?
    • by RockDoctor (15477)
      When Jesus used to ride dinosaurs, he used a Trojan.

      (I was trying to figure out why the condom machine in the restaurant we used this evening bore the slogan "Trojan - America's #1 condoms". I get that it's a trademark, but what associations were the marketing people trying to get between sex and the Trojans?
      "Have sex like people who've been dead for about 3000 years"?
      "Fuck like the losers"?
      "Fuck like an adulterer who died for his squeeze"?
      "These condoms are as comfortable as a brass helmet on the end of yo
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Thursday January 10, 2008 @05:21AM (#21981386)

    How wonderful to consider that this animal's descendants walk among us to this very day. Chubby, piggish little creatures. Omnivorous. Voracious. Almost invulnerable due to their incredibly tough skin. Scavenging when they must, picking off a vulnerable or unwary victim when they can.

    We call them "lawyers".

  • heh. (Score:1, Redundant)

    by apodyopsis (1048476)
    I don't know which is more appropriate.... "thats a mighty fine and intelligent piece of design there god" "well done, marvelously detailed and cunningly hidden fossil, we almost fell for that one"
  • Yummy (Score:3, Funny)

    by El Yanqui (1111145) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @06:18AM (#21981658) Homepage
    Mmm.. spicy Psittacosaurus rinds.
  • Dakota (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cemu (968469) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @10:01AM (#21982870)

    ...which was found in South Dakota.
    North Dakota. The article previously covered was found in North Dakota. For those of you who have never been there before, there is a difference - not just geographically either.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)

      North Dakota. The article previously covered was found in North Dakota. For those of you who have never been there before, there is a difference - not just geographically either.

      For a country whose inhabitants can't largely identify Canada and Mexico on a map, this small distinction seems pretty irrelevant, eh?

      • by Cemu (968469)
        Yeah, I unfortunately hear your argument. But for those of us from North Dakota we take pride in our state, even if what comes from it is millions of years old.
    • by jd (1658)
      My mother is from North Dakota, so naturally I deny it exists. :)
      • by Cemu (968469)
        Dude, so am I! I probably know her...
        • by jd (1658)
          Very likely, if you're in the areas of Bismarck or Jamestown - doubly so if you know families that moved over from Norway or Poland in the 1800s. If your last name is Wyngarden or Woychick, you probably don't just know my mother but are probably a long-lost cousin.
  • Just a correction: The dinosaur mummy that was previously reported on Slashdot a couple weeks ago was found in North Dakota. I repeat my assurances that these two states are separate and that every article and TV program about that dinosaur that I was aware of got it right, except Slashdot.
  • I'm under the impression it was caused by a predator of some sort but I could use another confirmation just to be sure.
  • "Great jerky professor!"

    "Damnit Fry I was going to eat that!"

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