Dinosaur with skin, guts content intact


This video from Canada says about itself:

Discovery of Ankylosaur at Suncor’s Millennium Mine

On March 21, 2011 a shovel operator in Suncor’s Millennium Mine discovered an important piece of Alberta‘s history when he uncovered a dinosaur fossil.

By Nina Golgowski:

05/14/2017 03:38 pm ET

Canada Unveils ‘Dinosaur Mummy’ Found With Skin And Gut Contents Intact

“We don’t just have a skeleton. We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”

After 110-million years encased in stone, an impeccably preserved, dragon-like dinosaur has been unveiled by paleontologists in Canada and it’s unlike anything they’ve seen before.

The remains of an armor-plated nodosaur, a 3,000-pound plant-eating horned creature, went on display in Alberta on Friday after its accidental discovery by miners nearly six years ago, National Geographic reported.

“We don’t just have a skeleton,” Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology where the fossil went on display, told the magazine. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”

Researchers say the fossil is remarkable, with it being a never-before-seen species of nodosaur, as well as the oldest dinosaur ever found in Alberta. It’s preserved skin and gut contents are also providing invaluable clues on these extinct creatures.

“I’ve been calling this one the Rosetta Stone for armor,” Donald Henderson, curator of dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, told National Geographic.

“It’s basically a dinosaur mummy ― it really is exceptional,” Don Brinkman, director of preservation and research, also told The New York Times.

For the last five years, researchers have spent more than 7,000 hours chiseling away at the fossil’s surrounding rock to expose the incredible creature.

The researchers have had their share of ups and downs, with the fossil breaking into pieces upon its removal from Alberta’s Millennium Mine in 2011.

The 15,000-pound, plaster-covered block it was encased in is seen shattering during a video uploaded to YouTube by Suncor Energy [see top of thuis blog post], which owns the mine.

“One of the good things about this, believe it or not, is because it’s in smaller pieces it will make preparation go a little faster,” Darren Tanke, a paleo technician with the Royal Tyrrell Museum, says in the video.

“This is restorable. Everything broke cleanly and in big pieces,” he adds. “It’s unfortunate that this happened but this is restorable.”

Fort McMurray, Canada wildfire disaster continues


This video says about itself:

Wildfires Force Canadian City Evacuation

6 May 2016

Nearly all Fort McMurray‘s 90,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes due to several wildfires that are ravaging their city since Sunday.

The huge wildfire that has forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray—the northern Alberta city that is the hub of Canada’s tar-sands oil industry—continued to rage uncontrollably yesterday: here.

Fort McMurray teacher describes chaotic evacuation: here.

Plesiosaur discovery in Alberta, Canada


Plesiosaur skeleton

In Alberta, Canada, a fossil plesiosaur from the Cretaceous age has been discovered in November 2011: here.

Talking about fossils: Oldest Hairy Microbe Fossils Discovered.

Canadian dinosaurs’ blood discovery


This video from Britain about dinosaur research says about itself:

4 June 2015

Scanning electron micrographs and 3D reconstructions from serial sections of erythrocyte-like structures. Credit: Bertazzo et al., Nature Communications.

This video shows scanning electron micrographs being reconstructed into 3D shapes based on the serial sections taken of the red blood cell-like structures.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

75-million-year-old dinosaur blood and collagen discovered in fossil fragments

Scientists accidentally discover what appear to be red blood cells and collagen fibres during analysis of ‘crap’ fossils dug up in Canada 100 years ago

Ian Sample, Science editor

Scientists have discovered what appear to be red blood cells and collagen fibres in the fossilised remains of dinosaurs that lived 75 million years ago.

Traces of the soft tissues were found by accident when researchers at Imperial College in London analysed eight rather shabby fossils that had been dug up in Canada a century ago before finding their way to the Natural History Museum in London.

The finding suggests that scores of dinosaur fossils in museums around the world could retain soft tissues, and with it the answers to major questions about dinosaur physiology and evolution. More speculatively, it has made scientists ponder whether dinosaur DNA might also survive.

Most of the fossils the scientists studied were mere fragments and in very poor condition. They included a claw from a meat-eating therapod, perhaps a gorgosaurus, some limb and ankle bones from a duck-billed dinosaur, and a toe bone from [a] triceratops-like animal.

Intact soft tissue has been spotted in dinosaur fossils before, most famously by Mary Schweitzer at North Carolina State University, who in 2005 found flexible, transparent collagen in the fossilised leg of a Tyrannosaurus rex specimen.

What makes the latest discovery so remarkable is that the blood cells and collagen were found in specimens that the researchers themselves describe as “crap”. If soft tissue can survive in these fossils, then museum collections of more impressive remains could harbour troves of soft dinosaur tissue. Those could help unravel mysteries of dinosaur physiology and behaviour that have been impossible to crack with bony remains alone.

“It’s really difficult to get curators to allow you to snap bits off their fossils. The ones we tested are crap, very fragmentary, and they are not the sorts of fossils you’d expect to have soft tissue,” said Susannah Maidment, a paleontologist at Imperial.

The fossils are a smattering of pieces collected last century, probably directly from the ground, at the Dinosaur Park Formation in Alberta, Canada. To analyse the remains, the scientists broke tiny pieces off the fragments to expose fresh, uncontaminated surfaces inside.

Sergio Bertazzo, a materials scientist at Imperial, had been working on the build up of calcium in human blood vessels when he met Maidment and asked if he could study some fossils with an array of electron microscope techniques.

Months after the specimens arrived, Bertazzo began to look at thin sections of the fossils. He began with the therapod [sic; theropod] claw. “One morning, I turned on the microscope, increased the magnification, and thought ‘wait – that looks like blood!’,” he said.

Bertazzo suspected the blood was historic contamination: a curator or a collector had a cut when they handled the specimen. But Maidment suggested a check. Mammals are unusual among vertebrates in having red blood cells that lack a cell nucleus. If the fossil’s blood cells had nuclei, they could not be human. When they sliced through one of the cells to check, they saw what looked like a nucleus. “That ruled out someone bleeding on the sample,” said Maidment.

Another surprise was to come. Bertazzo was examining another fossil fragment, a piece of rib from some unidentified dinosaur, which had been sliced in two inside the microscope. He spotted bands of fibres, which further tests found to contain amino acids known that make up collagen, the protein-based material that forms the basis for skin and other soft tissues.

More work is needed to be sure the features are genuine blood cells and collagen. The scientists now hope to scour more fossils for soft tissues, and then work out what sorts of burial and environmental conditions are needed for their preservation.

“It may well be that this type of tissue is preserved far more commonly than we thought. It might even be the norm,” said Maidment, whose study appears in Nature Communications. “This is just the first step in this research.”

A detailed study of the soft tissues could unravel some of the long-standing mysteries of dinosaur evolution. The dinosaurs evolved from cold-blooded ancestors, but their modern descendants are warm-blooded birds. When did the transition occur? Red blood cells may hold the answer.

If collagen and red blood cells can survive for 75 million years, what about dinosaur DNA, bearing the genetic code to design, or potentially even resurrect, the beasts?

“We haven’t found any genetic material in our fossils, but generally in science, it is unwise to say never,” said Maidment. Bertazzo is hedging his bets too: “This opens up the possibility of loads of specimens that may have soft tissue preserved in them, but the problem with DNA is that even if you find it, it won’t be intact. It’s possible you could find fragments, but to find more than that? Who knows?”

Anjali Goswami, a paleontologist at University College London, said that if dinosaur soft tissues were found in many more fossils, it could have a transformative effect on research. “If we can expand the data we have on soft tissues, from fossils that are poorly preserved, that has real implications for our understanding of life in deep time,” she said.