A remarkably well-preserved fossil of a dinosaur has been analysed by scientists writing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
They describe how the fossil’s soft tissues were spared from decay by fine sediments that formed a mineral cast.
Tests have shown that the fossil still holds cell-like structures – but their constituent proteins have decayed.
The team says the cellular structure of the dinosaur’s skin was similar to that of dinosaurs’ modern-day descendants.
A member of the duck-billed hadrosaur family, the fossil was found in North Dakota in the US and has been nicknamed “Dakota”. …
The team found that although the proteins that made up the hadrosaur’s skin had degraded, the amino acid building blocks that once made up the proteins were still present.
“We’re looking at the altered products of proteins from the skin of this animal, locked within the three dimensional mineralised skin,” Dr Manning told BBC News.
“You’re looking at cell-like structures; you slice through this and you’re looking at the cell structure of dinosaur skin. …
A study of the cell structures show that, like modern-day crocodiles and birds, the skin was made up of two layers: a surface epidermis against a deeper dermis layer made up of dense connective tissue.
Although that finding is what might have been expected based on the presumed lineage of the modern animals…