UW researchers think T. rex flesh = sludge

We (ok, I) love paleontology gossip [mb], and today the science blogs are full of it. A couple of years ago paleontologists in North Carolina found what they thought might have been soft tissue in some T. rex bones [sciam]. But now a team of researchers led by the UW’s Thomas Kaye are reporting that they think the soft tissue is actually a bacterial colony that mimics the properties of flesh [sciam].

“Kaye and other researchers first used a scanning electron microscope to probe the inner, cave-like chambers in dinosaur bone samples and noted striking similarities to the biofilms they reared and reaped from a bucket of pond water. The original dinosaur flesh-finders relied on a different approach, namely bone-dissolving acids that left behind bits of pliable material later characterized as soft tissue remnants. Kaye’s team duplicated this technique as well, and found that iron deposits, thought to be from prehistoric blood cells, were instead natural mineral formations called framboids.”

The original research team, at North Carolina State University, is having none of this bacterial sludge nonsense, pointing out that the UW’s study doesn’t address the recent genetic analyses of the goop that say that the T. rex’s closest living relative is the chicken. (Which, maybe they didn’t point that out because it’s a little embarrassing for the dinosaurs…)

In any case, it looks like this is shaping up to be an east coast vs. west coast paleontological throwdown. If only questions of science could be settled via dance-off.

3 Comments so far

  1. imvb on July 31st, 2008 @ 10:47 am

    It’s always a dance-off with you!

  2. samantha on July 31st, 2008 @ 10:56 am

    There is no more safe, efficient, or entertaining way to settle a dispute. Everyone wins in a dance-off! Except for the person that loses, anyway.

  3. mmbb on July 31st, 2008 @ 11:44 am

    nascent oil?

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