Want To Reduce Those 190 Million Year Old Wrinkles? Try Collagen Injections

University of Toronto paleontologist Robert Reisz may have discovered preserved collagen in Jurassic era dinosaur remains, according to the cover story on the current issue of Nature. Collagen makes up between a quarter to a third of all protein materials in the connective tissues of mammals (loss of collagen is what causes osteoporosis). Outside of it's naturally occurring instances, it is regularly used in plastic surgery, to aid the healing of scars and grafts, and as something vain people get injected into their face.

And none of that has anything to do with dinosaurs, but this does. Timothy Huang of China's National Chung Hsing University discovered a fossil site which, once excavated, revealed 200 embryonic bones from a Lufengosaurus, a prosauropod dating from the early Jurassic period 190 million years ago (seen above), as well as a selection of other species. Embryonic fossils are very rare, with the majority dating from the Upper Cretaceous, so the age of the discovery is incredible enough. The range and condition of the bones means that Reisz and his team can chart how the animal grew and changed during its embryonic stages, something that hasn't been possible before. Reisz and his team have already been able to determine that the femur size of Lfengosaurus doubled in size during a short incubation period.

Additionally, Huang, a chemist, tested for organic markers on a whim, knowing that the chances of finding any organic material preserved is slim, but when it is located, it is always an important discovery. With the recent clarification that DNA has, at a maximum, a 6.7 million year life, the best the researchers could hope for would be protein remnants. What they found were the oldest known discovered complex proteins preserved in a fossil. To discover them in something as delicate and rare as an embryonic fossil, and a fossil as old as these was, as Reisz put it, "mind boggling." The hope now is to extract this organic material, study it, and compare it to living creatures, in a effort to understand how dinosaur bones and tissues formed during the earliest developmental stages. Said Reisz, "We think they are collagen fibres that represent the framework on which the bone was built. We have very good evidence that this is native dinosaur tissue."

Via the Toronto Star and Macleans.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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