The amazingly preserved flesh of a T. Rex has baffled science for years.
Dinosaur tissue preserved for millions of years. Examining the proteins found there reveal unusual secrets. Iron may act like formaldehyde to preserve biomolecules. People were skeptical when these tissues were first found but recent work indicates that these tissues may not be the result of contamination.
Entitled “A role for iron and oxygen chemistry in preserving soft tissues, cells and molecules from deep time“, it is available for free.
It looks like the iron in hemoglobin produces a strong preservative. Doing experiments on tissue fixation, they found that a bird’s blood could easily increase tissue stability over 200-fold – from 3 days to over two years at room temperature.
It turns out that there might be a lot more of this tissue than thought, people just did not look for it. It requires some special conditions and special care upon exposure to air but we could learn a lot if it is reproducible.
But others have recently found ancient iron-containing molecules in insect fossils over 40 million years old. So this may lead to some interesting new understandings of ancient life.
Time will tell if DNA is actually present. Because the presence of the iron makes it harder to do the sequencing reactions needed.