Scientists have discovered what they believe (and hope) to be blood cells and soft tissue in a few mediocre-ly preserved fossils, which means dinosaur tissue could be way more prevalent than previously thought.
The researchers, from Imperial College London, examined eight fossils that were held in London's Natural History Museum for more than 100 years. The findings were published in Nature Communications this week.
Report co-author Dr. Susannah Maidment said in a press release that the discovery could be a game changer for paleontologists:
"Although remnants of soft tissues have previously been discovered in rare, exceptionally preserved fossils, what is particularly exciting about our study is that we have discovered structures reminiscent of blood cells and collagen fibres in scrappy, poorly preserved fossils. This suggests that this sort of soft tissue preservation might be widespread in fossils."
The fossils were taken from different types of dinosaurs—a theropod, chasmosaurus, hadrosaur, horned dinosaur and an unidentified dino.
After examining the matter within the fossil sample, the researchers compared it to emu blood. Here's what they found in the fossils:
and emu blood looks like this:
Emu blood was used because the flightless bird is quite similar to dinosaurs as we believe them to have existed.
If the scientists confirm that the material is, indeed, dinosaur soft tissue, researchers may be able to learn more about other extinct species. This is either very good science news, or very very good advertising for Jurassic World.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.