BER Structural Biology and Imaging Resources
Synchrotron, Neutron, and Cryo-EM
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Office of Biological and Environmental Research

Revealing How Dinosaur Blood Vessels Preserve Through the Ages

February 14, 2020

Feature Story

A team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin–Stout used infrared and X-ray imaging and spectromicroscopy to demonstrate how soft tissue structures may be preserved in dinosaur bones. Performed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (LBNL) Advanced Light Source (ALS), the research countered scientific dogma that protein-based body parts cannot survive more than 1 million years. Samples from a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex tibia provided evidence that vertebrate collagen and elastin structures (from blood vessels) may persist across geologic time through two natural processes called Fenton chemistry and glycation.

Boatman, E. M., et al. 2019. “Mechanisms of Soft Tissue and Protein Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex,” Scientific Reports 9, 15678. [DOI:10.1038/s41598-019-51680-1]