Dinosaurs Inside and Out

Growing Bones

Have scientists ever found soft tissue in dinosaur bones?

Yes, recently, and contrary to what most scientists believed could happen, paleontologists have found what seems to be soft tissue from the femur of a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex. This is a surprising discovery if it is true—after all, soft parts decay quickly, and organic molecules are thought not to exist after 100,000 years.

Scientists studied the microstructure and organic components of the T. rex bone, removing the minerals from the fragment; they found a stretchy bone matrix material left behind that seemed to show blood vessels and other organic features. Because it is thought that living birds are closely related to dinosaurs, the scientists compared the branching vessels to a contemporary ostrich, and the vessels were indeed very similar. But like all new discoveries in science—and especially with dinosaurs—there is more work to do to confirm this finding.


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