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Palaeontology

Pregnant Tyrannosaurus rex could contain DNA

March 16, 2016 | Comment icon 22 comments



Can T. rex DNA be retrieved from fossil medullary bone ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Emoke Denes
A recently discovered fossil could contain what scientists have been seeking for years: dinosaur DNA.
The 68-million-year-old remains, which were unearthed at an excavation site in Montana, contain fragments of medullary bone - something typically found in birds just before and after egg laying.

The discovery not only shows that this particular dinosaur was female and pregnant, but could offer scientists their first ever opportunity to obtain traces of preserved Tyrannosaurus rex DNA.

"Yes, it's possible," said Lindsay Zanno of North Carolina State University. "We have some evidence that fragments of DNA may be preserved in dinosaur fossils, but this remains to be tested further."

Finding medullary bone in the fossil remains of a dinosaur is itself a rare occurrence because it is present for such a short period of time. Only a few other examples have ever been identified.
"We were lucky to find these female fossils," said Sarah Werning, a paleontologist whose team had previously found medullary bone in the remains of an Allosaurus and a Tenontosaurus.

"Medullary bone is only around for three to four weeks in females who are reproductively mature, so you'd have to cut up a lot of dinosaur bones to have a good chance of finding this."

While it is unlikely that we will be seeing a real-life version of Jurassic Park anytime soon, there's a slim chance that the Montana T. rex might turn out to be the Holy Grail of dinosaur finds.

If the team does find traces of DNA it will be one of the most important discoveries in paleontology.

Source: Discovery News | Comments (22)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by shadowsot 6 years ago
Maybe the DNA will reveal why Tyrannosaurus are radioactive. What?
Comment icon #14 Posted by Bloodflower 6 years ago
The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were fictional and made to be evil. They also contained frog DNA.
Comment icon #15 Posted by woopypooky 6 years ago
people should be more scared of human cloning. dinosaurs are lame animal scared of guns.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Gingitsune 6 years ago
So, this is what a T-rex doing their T-rex stuff looks like? It kind of look less like Barney and more like Big Bird.... Here, behold the terrible T-rex:
Comment icon #17 Posted by CJ1983 6 years ago
I'll take two please. people should be more scared of human cloning. dinosaurs are lame animal scared of guns. what if I want a double to fill in at work while I fish?
Comment icon #18 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
people should be more scared of human cloning. dinosaurs are lame animal scared of guns. And how do you know they are afraid of guns? I'd also like you to call a Raptor lame as the pack attacks and eats you.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Infernal Gnu 6 years ago
I can't wait till McDonald's serves up cloned T. Rex nuggets, even if it takes till the year 2100.
Comment icon #20 Posted by zebra99 6 years ago
The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were fictional and made to be evil. They also contained frog DNA. They also grew to full size at a rapid rate....Loved the bit early on when he informed the kids that the big buggers were safe because they were plant eaters. I'd hate to see the result if he tried to pat a rhino!
Comment icon #21 Posted by acute 6 years ago
Am I missing something here? A fossil is a rock. A different rock to the surrounding rock. How do you extract DNA from a rock?
Comment icon #22 Posted by shadowsot 6 years ago
Am I missing something here? A fossil is a rock. A different rock to the surrounding rock. How do you extract DNA from a rock? With some fossilized remains soft tissue and DNA fragments can be preserved, though I don't understand the exact process. Look up Mary Schweitzer's work on it.


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