11 May 2006

It seems NCSU are ready to learn about fossils!

Much fossil craziness has puzzled me over the years, so I hope you can guess how I feel about this article from NatGeo WRT a T.Rex fossil rated at 70 million years old and still with soft tissues prominent:

Soft-tissue dinosaur remains, first reported last year in a discovery that shocked the paleontological community, may not be all that rare, experts say.
A 2005 paper in the journal Science described what appeared to be flexible blood vessels, cells, and collagen-like bone matrix from fossils of a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex.
Mary Schweitzer, the North Carolina State University paleontologist who announced the finding, said her team has now repeated that feat with more than a dozen other dinosaur specimens.
To make sense of the surprising discovery, scientists are beginning to rethink a long-standing model of how the fossilization process works.

So... it seems like NCSU are going to be among the prominent ground-breakers with better-arranged fossilisation theories — and, who knows? Maybe eventually the first RexBurger (or RexNuggets) available only in huge or truly gigantic sizes? Yeah, well... sorry, but unlike my bizarre self, how many actual real-live great science-fiction authors have managed to utterly avoid tripping over jokes like that?


M said...

I was actually listening to a Radio National Podcast (the science show) (http://www.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/) where the woman of whom pioneered the process used to extract soft tissue from fossilized bones was talking about what they do.
It was a _very_ impressive talk and quite exciting to hear her talk about what they do and how it will help them.

The only real downside is they have to destroy a relatively large sample to get a very small amount of useful matter after they process it.

Jurassic park is another step closer. (but using a line from the same movie, "just because we can, doesn't mean we should")

Leon Brooks said...

That movie line is one of the few sensible souvenirs from the whole JP fantasy.

There are also fossils of many other T-Rex-like dinos around — many of whom were faster, larger and/or had other unsettling improvements — which kind of give us the hint that having a 20m end-to-end, tall, flash-fast, sharp-toothed, hyperactive and bipedal crocodilish-lookin’-thing blundering hungrily around may not be such a clever achievement after all...

Or perhaps just picture a 40m-stretch heavily enfanged and shockingly-fast snake fossicking around your doorstep, or imagine a massive pet lizard-like predator that can run faster than your car can drive, or a scorpion you could saddle and gallop (briefly), or just repaint some other of our ancient history; but live, hungry and in your face now...