Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities

Evan T. Saitta, Renxing Liang, Maggie Cy Lau, Caleb M. Brown, Nicholas R. Longrich, Thomas G. Kaye, Ben J. Novak, Steven L. Salzberg, Mark A. Norell, Geoffrey D. Abbott, Marc R. Dickinson, Jakob Vinther, Ian D. Bull, Richard A. Brooker, Peter Martin, Paul Donohoe, Timothy Dj Knowles, Kirsty Eh Penkman, Tullis Onstott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Fossils were thought to lack original organic molecules, but chemical analyses show that some can survive. Dinosaur bone has been proposed to preserve collagen, osteocytes, and blood vessels. However, proteins and labile lipids are diagenetically unstable, and bone is a porous open system, allowing microbial/molecular flux. These 'soft tissues' have been reinterpreted as biofilms. Organic preservation versus contamination of dinosaur bone was examined by freshly excavating, with aseptic protocols, fossils and sedimentary matrix, and chemically/biologically analyzing them. Fossil 'soft tissues' differed from collagen chemically and structurally; while degradation would be expected, the patterns observed did not support this. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed that dinosaur bone hosted an abundant microbial community different from lesser abundant communities of surrounding sediment. Subsurface dinosaur bone is a relatively fertile habitat, attracting microbes that likely utilize inorganic nutrients and complicate identification of original organic material. There exists potential post-burial taphonomic roles for subsurface microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere46205
JournaleLife
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • biochemistry
  • chemical biology
  • fossils
  • infectious disease
  • microbiology
  • microbiome
  • proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

Cite this

Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities. / Saitta, Evan T.; Liang, Renxing; Lau, Maggie Cy; Brown, Caleb M.; Longrich, Nicholas R.; Kaye, Thomas G.; Novak, Ben J.; Salzberg, Steven L.; Norell, Mark A.; Abbott, Geoffrey D.; Dickinson, Marc R.; Vinther, Jakob; Bull, Ian D.; Brooker, Richard A.; Martin, Peter; Donohoe, Paul; Knowles, Timothy Dj; Penkman, Kirsty Eh; Onstott, Tullis.

In: eLife, Vol. 8, e46205, 18.06.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Saitta, ET, Liang, R, Lau, MC, Brown, CM, Longrich, NR, Kaye, TG, Novak, BJ, Salzberg, SL, Norell, MA, Abbott, GD, Dickinson, MR, Vinther, J, Bull, ID, Brooker, RA, Martin, P, Donohoe, P, Knowles, TD, Penkman, KE & Onstott, T 2019, 'Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities', eLife, vol. 8, e46205. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.46205
Saitta, Evan T. ; Liang, Renxing ; Lau, Maggie Cy ; Brown, Caleb M. ; Longrich, Nicholas R. ; Kaye, Thomas G. ; Novak, Ben J. ; Salzberg, Steven L. ; Norell, Mark A. ; Abbott, Geoffrey D. ; Dickinson, Marc R. ; Vinther, Jakob ; Bull, Ian D. ; Brooker, Richard A. ; Martin, Peter ; Donohoe, Paul ; Knowles, Timothy Dj ; Penkman, Kirsty Eh ; Onstott, Tullis. / Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities. In: eLife. 2019 ; Vol. 8.
@article{aecbdbef68ec472da4c9a64bfb8b3b6e,
title = "Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities",
abstract = "Fossils were thought to lack original organic molecules, but chemical analyses show that some can survive. Dinosaur bone has been proposed to preserve collagen, osteocytes, and blood vessels. However, proteins and labile lipids are diagenetically unstable, and bone is a porous open system, allowing microbial/molecular flux. These 'soft tissues' have been reinterpreted as biofilms. Organic preservation versus contamination of dinosaur bone was examined by freshly excavating, with aseptic protocols, fossils and sedimentary matrix, and chemically/biologically analyzing them. Fossil 'soft tissues' differed from collagen chemically and structurally; while degradation would be expected, the patterns observed did not support this. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed that dinosaur bone hosted an abundant microbial community different from lesser abundant communities of surrounding sediment. Subsurface dinosaur bone is a relatively fertile habitat, attracting microbes that likely utilize inorganic nutrients and complicate identification of original organic material. There exists potential post-burial taphonomic roles for subsurface microorganisms.",
keywords = "biochemistry, chemical biology, fossils, infectious disease, microbiology, microbiome, proteins",
author = "Saitta, {Evan T.} and Renxing Liang and Lau, {Maggie Cy} and Brown, {Caleb M.} and Longrich, {Nicholas R.} and Kaye, {Thomas G.} and Novak, {Ben J.} and Salzberg, {Steven L.} and Norell, {Mark A.} and Abbott, {Geoffrey D.} and Dickinson, {Marc R.} and Jakob Vinther and Bull, {Ian D.} and Brooker, {Richard A.} and Peter Martin and Paul Donohoe and Knowles, {Timothy Dj} and Penkman, {Kirsty Eh} and Tullis Onstott",
note = "{\circledC} 2019, Saitta et al.",
year = "2019",
month = "6",
day = "18",
doi = "10.7554/eLife.46205",
language = "English",
volume = "8",
journal = "eLife",
issn = "2050-084X",
publisher = "eLife Sciences Publications",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Cretaceous dinosaur bone contains recent organic material and provides an environment conducive to microbial communities

AU - Saitta, Evan T.

AU - Liang, Renxing

AU - Lau, Maggie Cy

AU - Brown, Caleb M.

AU - Longrich, Nicholas R.

AU - Kaye, Thomas G.

AU - Novak, Ben J.

AU - Salzberg, Steven L.

AU - Norell, Mark A.

AU - Abbott, Geoffrey D.

AU - Dickinson, Marc R.

AU - Vinther, Jakob

AU - Bull, Ian D.

AU - Brooker, Richard A.

AU - Martin, Peter

AU - Donohoe, Paul

AU - Knowles, Timothy Dj

AU - Penkman, Kirsty Eh

AU - Onstott, Tullis

N1 - © 2019, Saitta et al.

PY - 2019/6/18

Y1 - 2019/6/18

N2 - Fossils were thought to lack original organic molecules, but chemical analyses show that some can survive. Dinosaur bone has been proposed to preserve collagen, osteocytes, and blood vessels. However, proteins and labile lipids are diagenetically unstable, and bone is a porous open system, allowing microbial/molecular flux. These 'soft tissues' have been reinterpreted as biofilms. Organic preservation versus contamination of dinosaur bone was examined by freshly excavating, with aseptic protocols, fossils and sedimentary matrix, and chemically/biologically analyzing them. Fossil 'soft tissues' differed from collagen chemically and structurally; while degradation would be expected, the patterns observed did not support this. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed that dinosaur bone hosted an abundant microbial community different from lesser abundant communities of surrounding sediment. Subsurface dinosaur bone is a relatively fertile habitat, attracting microbes that likely utilize inorganic nutrients and complicate identification of original organic material. There exists potential post-burial taphonomic roles for subsurface microorganisms.

AB - Fossils were thought to lack original organic molecules, but chemical analyses show that some can survive. Dinosaur bone has been proposed to preserve collagen, osteocytes, and blood vessels. However, proteins and labile lipids are diagenetically unstable, and bone is a porous open system, allowing microbial/molecular flux. These 'soft tissues' have been reinterpreted as biofilms. Organic preservation versus contamination of dinosaur bone was examined by freshly excavating, with aseptic protocols, fossils and sedimentary matrix, and chemically/biologically analyzing them. Fossil 'soft tissues' differed from collagen chemically and structurally; while degradation would be expected, the patterns observed did not support this. 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing revealed that dinosaur bone hosted an abundant microbial community different from lesser abundant communities of surrounding sediment. Subsurface dinosaur bone is a relatively fertile habitat, attracting microbes that likely utilize inorganic nutrients and complicate identification of original organic material. There exists potential post-burial taphonomic roles for subsurface microorganisms.

KW - biochemistry

KW - chemical biology

KW - fossils

KW - infectious disease

KW - microbiology

KW - microbiome

KW - proteins

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85068400337&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.7554/eLife.46205

DO - 10.7554/eLife.46205

M3 - Article

VL - 8

JO - eLife

JF - eLife

SN - 2050-084X

M1 - e46205

ER -