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Soft Tissue Preserved in Dinosaur Bone, Testing Biofilm Hypothesis

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Mary Higby Schweitzer, Alison E. Moyer & Wenxia Zheng (2016)
Testing the Hypothesis of Biofilm as a Source for Soft Tissue and
Cell-Like Structures Preserved in Dinosaur Bone.
PLoS ONE 11(2): e0150238.
http: // journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0150238

Recovery of still-soft tissue structures, including blood vessels and
osteocytes, from dinosaur bone after demineralization was reported in
2005 and in subsequent publications. Despite multiple lines of
evidence supporting an endogenous source, it was proposed that these
structures arose from contamination from biofilm-forming organisms. To
test the hypothesis that soft tissue structures result from microbial
invasion of the fossil bone, we used two different biofilm-forming
microorganisms to inoculate modern bone fragments from which organic
components had been removed. We show fundamental morphological,
chemical and textural differences between the resultant biofilm
structures and those derived from dinosaur bone. The data do not
support the hypothesis that biofilm-forming microorganisms are the
source of these structures.