October 17, 2019 | 3:36 PM IST

Modern microbes and not protein in Dino fossils diminish expert’s hope of cloning

A recent study further diminished chances of prehistoric animal cloning from preserved proteins after researchers found modern microbes in fossilised bones of dinosaurs.  Fossilists claim to have found certain exceptionally preserved traces of the protein collagen along with soft issue-like blood and bone cells that can be used to revive or recreate the extinct species of dinosaurs, says a report. 

The researchers found huge colonies of modern bacteria instead of protein. A postdoctoral scientist from Field Museum Evan Saitta said, “This is breaking new ground – this is the first time we’ve found this unique microbial community in these fossil bones while they’re buried underground. It was like another nail in the coffin in the idea of dinosaur proteins getting preserved intact.”

Evan explained, “In order to collect these bones one needs to dig the site with a tonne of bone because the bones have to be found quickly and expose just enough of one end to know what it is then aseptically collect the unexposed bit of bone and surrounding rock all in one. Some molecules can survive in the fossil record, but probably proteins can’t as they are unstable on those timescales in the conditions of fossilisation.”

The team worked upon 75-million-year-old fossils from Centrosaurus and took the bones back to various laboratories to examine their organic composition. The team found that the fossils did not contain the collagen proteins present in fresh bones or the much younger shark teeth. The team is of the opinion that the modern microbes and their secretions called biofilm, are likely what other experts have seen in fossils and reported as soft tissues of dinosaurs.

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