Epic preservation of dinosaur skin and dandruff in their feathers in China. Epidermis (outer layer of skin) preservation processes such as in Lagerstätten or quick preserves of organic and biological material?
An analysis of fossilised dandruff fragments has given scientists their first evidence of how dinosaurs and early birds shed their skin. Found among the plumage of these ancient creatures, the 125-million-year-old flakes are almost identical to those found in modern birds…
“We were originally interested in studying the feathers, and when we were looking at the feathers we kept finding these little white blobs, the stuff was everywhere, it was in between all the feathers,” lead author Dr Maria McNamara from University College Cork told BBC News. “We started wondering if it was a biological feature like fragments of shells, or reptile skin, but it’s not consistent with any of those things, the only option left was that it was fragments of the skin that were preserved, and it’s identical in structure to the outer part of the skin in modern birds, what we would call dandruff.”
The researchers were seeing tough cells called corneocytes, which were filled with twisting spirals of keratin fibres – almost identical to those found in modern birds, and also in human dandruff.
Dinosaur dandruff reveals first evidence of skin shedding
A Lagerstätte is a sedimentary deposit that exhibits extraordinary fossils with exceptional preservation – sometimes including preserved soft tissues. These formations may have resulted from carcass burial in an anoxic environment with minimal bacteria, thus delaying decomposition.
Lagerstätte | wikipedia
Here we report the discovery of fossil skin, preserved with remarkable nanoscale fidelity, in three non-avian maniraptoran dinosaurs and a basal bird from the Cretaceous Jehol biota (China). The skin comprises patches of desquamating epidermal corneocytes that preserve a cytoskeletal array of helically coiled α-keratin tonofibrils.
Fossilized skin reveals coevolution with feathers and metabolism in feathered dinosaurs and early birds
Were dinosaurs alive in more modern times than hundreds of millions of years ago? Standard chronology, standard theories and dating methods suggest that these Chinese dinosaurs lived long ago in the Jehol Biota period about 120 million years ago.
Found among the plumage of these ancient creatures, the 125-million-year-old flakes are almost identical to those found in modern birds… the only option left was that it was fragments of the skin that were preserved, and it’s identical in structure to the outer part of the skin in modern birds, what we would call dandruff. The researchers were seeing tough cells called corneocytes, which were filled with twisting spirals of keratin fibres – almost identical to those found in modern birds, and also in human dandruff…
So that suggests they had lower body temperatures than modern birds, almost like a transitional metabolism between a cold blooded reptile and a warm blooded bird.
Dinosaur dandruff reveals first evidence of skin shedding
But there are issues and doubts with dating techniques such as carbon dating etc.
The Jehol Biota includes all the living organisms – the ecosystem – of northeastern China between 133 and 120 million years ago. This is the Lower Cretaceous ecosystem which left fossils in the Yixian Formation and Jiufotang Formation. It is also believed to have left fossils in the Sinuiju series of North Korea. The ecosystem in the Lower Cretaceous was dominated by wetlands and numerous lakes (not rivers, deltas, or marine habitats). Rainfall was seasonal, alternating between semiarid, and mesic conditions. The climate was temperate.
The Jehol ecosystem was interrupted periodically by ash eruptions from volcanoes to the west. The word Jehol now said to refer to a mythical land of the past in Chinese folklore
Jehol Biota | wikipedia
Could these very different lifeforms have been roaming our surface relatively not that long ago? Were they and the planet transformed by catastrophes? Electromagnetic events that would also have effected dating? Could this be one explanation for the fantastically preserved material and life found in a Lagerstätte?
Some scientists have argued that the Jehol Biota evolved directly from the preceding Daohugou Biota without any strongly defined division. However, the absolute dating of the Daohugou beds has been the subject of divergent opinion: in 2006, Wang et al. found an overall similarity between the fossil animals found in the Daohugou Beds and the “Jehol Biota” from the Yixian Formation. Several other research teams, including Liu et al., have attempted to disprove this reasoning by using Zircon U-Pb dating on the volcanic rocks overlying and underlying salamander-bearing layers (salamanders are often used as index fossils). Liu et al. found that the Daohugou beds formed between 164–158 million years ago, in the Middle to Late Jurassic. Later, Ji et al. argued that the key indicator of the Jehol biota are the index fossil fishes Peipiaosteus and Lycoptera. Under this definition, the earliest evolutionary stage of the Jehol Biota is represented by the Huajiying Formation.
Jehol Biota – Origin | wikipedia
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