Chinese scientists have successfully isolated the surviving cartilage cells of a dinosaur. It is over 125 million years old. Researchers are confident that this work brings science closer to DNA sequencing of ancient dinosaurs and their “resurrection”.
A team of scientists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has isolated perfectly preserved cartilage cells from the Caudipteryx dinosaur. He lived in northeastern China 125 million years ago. The cells themselves contain nuclei with remnants of organic molecules and chromatin. The research is published by the journal Communications Biology.
The dinosaur was a small, peacock-sized omnivore with long tail feathers. In the early Cretaceous period, he wandered along the shores of small lakes in the Jehol biota – an ecosystem that developed in northeastern China 133-120 million years ago in the territory of the modern Liaoning province. Scientists note that in the Jehol biota, the fossils are well preserved due to the fine volcanic ash that buried dead animals and protected the bodies from the external influences of the changing environment.
During the study, paleontologists removed a piece of distal articular cartilage from the sample’s right femur, decalcified it, and used a variety of microscopic and chemical analysis methods. All cells were mineralized by silicification after the death of the animal. This silicification, most likely, contributed to the excellent preservation of the dinosaur cells.
The safety of the find turned out to be so unique that experts were able to examine both some of the original biomolecules in cells and chromatin strands. According to the authors, such studies bring science closer to the successful sequencing of dinosaur DNA. Caudipteryx cells are not completely fossilized and still contain remnants of organic molecules. In the future, scientists plan to find out if they have preserved any biological information and DNA remnants.