Iron Preserves, Hides Ancient Tissues in Fossilized Remains
New research from North Carolina State University shows that iron may play a role in preserving ancient tissues within dinosaur fossils, but also may hide them from detection. The finding could open the door to the recovery of more ancient tissues from within fossils.
Mary Schweitzer, an NC State paleontologist with a joint appointment at the N. C. Museum of Natural Sciences, first announced the surprising preservation of soft tissues in a T. rex fossil in 2005. Her subsequent work identified proteins in the soft tissue that seemed to confirm that the tissue was indeed T. rex tissue that had been preserved for millions of years. But the findings remained controversial in part because no one understood the chemical processes behind such preservation.