September 29, 2023

Potential Remnants of Original Dinosaur DNA Discovered in Exquisitely Preserved Dinosaur Cells

Restoration of the Jehol Biota and the unspoiled specimen of Caudipteryx. Credit: Image by ZHENG Qiuyang
Organic molecule residues found in nuclei of 125-million-year-old dinosaur cells.
A group of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and from the Shandong Tianyu Museum of Nature (STM) has actually isolated remarkably preserved cartilage cells in a 125-million-year-old dinosaur from Northeast China that include nuclei with residues of organic molecules and chromatin. The research study was released in Communications Biology on September 24, 2021.
The dinosaur, called Caudipteryx, was a small peacock-sized omnivore with long tail feathers. It roamed the shores of the shallow lakes of the Jehol Biota in Liaoning province throughout the Early Cretaceous.
” Geological data has collected for many years and revealed that fossil conservation in the Jehol Biota was exceptional due to great volcanic ashes that entombed the carcasses and protected them down to the cellular level,” stated LI Zhiheng, Associate Professor at IVPP and a co-author of this study.

Being able to put a fossilized cell into a particular spot within the cell cycle is rather brand-new in paleontology. After staining the dinosaur product, one dinosaur cell showed a purple nucleus with some darker purple threads.” Lets be sincere, we are undoubtedly interested in fossilized cell nuclei because this is where most of the DNA must be if DNA was maintained,” said Alida Bailleul. The group insists they need to do numerous more analyses and even develop brand-new methods to comprehend the procedures that may enable biomolecule conservation in dinosaur cells, because no one has ever effectively sequenced any dinosaur DNA. Even though more data should be collected, this research study certainly shows that 125-million-year old fossil dinosaur cells can not be thought about 100% rock.

The scientists extracted a piece of distal articular cartilage from the ideal thigh of this specimen, decalcified it, and utilized various microscopy and chemical approaches to examine it. They realized that all the cells had actually been mineralized by silicification after the death of the animal. This silicification is most likely what permitted the excellent conservation of these cells.
They also discovered two main kinds of cells: cells that were healthy at the time of fossilization, and not-so-healthy cells that were porous and fossilized while in the process of passing away. “It is possible that these cells were already dying even prior to the animal passed away,” stated Alida Bailleul, Associate Professor at IVPP and the corresponding author of this study.
Cell death is a process that takes place naturally throughout the lives of all animals. Being able to position a fossilized cell into a particular area within the cell cycle is rather brand-new in paleontology. This is among the goals of the IVPP researchers: to improve cellular images in fossils.
The group separated some cells and stained them with a chemical used in biological labs worldwide. After staining the dinosaur material, one dinosaur cell revealed a purple nucleus with some darker purple threads.
Chromatin within the cells of all living organisms in the world is made of tightly packed DNA particles. The results of this study thus supply initial information recommending that residues of initial dinosaur DNA may still be protected. However to specifically check this, the team requires to do a lot more work and usage chemical approaches that are far more refined than the staining they utilized here.
” Lets be sincere, we are clearly interested in fossilized cell nuclei since this is where many of the DNA ought to be if DNA was protected,” stated Alida Bailleul. We have great preliminary data, really interesting information, however we are just beginning to understand cellular biochemistry in really old fossils.
The team insists they require to do numerous more analyses and even establish new methods to understand the procedures that might permit biomolecule conservation in dinosaur cells, because no one has actually ever successfully sequenced any dinosaur DNA. Dinosaurs are considered method too old to keep any DNA.
Even though more information must be gathered, this study certainly shows that 125-million-year old fossil dinosaur cells can not be thought about 100% rock. Now, it is crucial to figure out precisely what these molecules are, whether they keep any biological info and residues of DNA.
Referral: “Nuclear preservation in the cartilage of the Jehol dinosaur Caudipteryx” by Xiaoting Zheng, Alida M. Bailleul, Zhiheng Li, Xiaoli Wang and Zhonghe Zhou, 24 September 2021, Communications Biology.DOI: 10.1038/ s42003-021-02627-8.