We got some terrible news for fans of Jurassic Park that were hoping scientists would somehow be able to clone dinosaurs. This is impossible since DNA breaks down over time, so dinosaur DNA is clearly gone from their remains. A new study, published recently in eLife, reveals that a team of researchers was trying to find traces of preserved collagen in dinosaur fossils. While they were not able to find the protein, they did find colonies of modern bacteria living inside the dinosaur remains.
Evan Saitta, the lead author of the study, believes this is a ground-breaking discovery since it could prove that some dinosaur proteins could have been preserved. During the research, Saitta made sure to collect fossils under the most sterile conditions possible.
He made this effort to eliminate any chances of other bacteria or proteins coming in contact with the fossils. The remains used during the study were from 75 million years old Centrosaurus.
Researchers found modern bacteria in dinosaur fossils
The team of researchers compared the Centrosaurus fossils with chicken bones, sediment from the fossil site, and thousands-of-years-old shark teeth. They discovered that proteins present in fresher bones could not be found in the dinosaur remains, but they did find organic components in them, like microbes, that must have gotten there naturally.
However, what surprised scientists the most was that the bacteria found within the fossil could not be detected in the surrounding rock.
The team could not come up with an explanation for the bacteria being there, but they understand why the bacteria might have been attracted to the fossils.
Saitta said: “Fossil bones contain phosphorus and iron, and microbes need those as nutrients. And the bones are porous—they wick up moisture. If you were a bacterium living in the ground, you’d probably want to live in a dinosaur bone. These bacteria are clearly having a jolly good time in these bones.”
Bo has over six years experience as a teacher, advocate and speaker. He has a B.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in Human rights from Harvard University Graduate School.