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Proteins in bones

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Protein Jurassic Park
"And from what? Loy's extractions never recreated an intact DNA strand."
Alan Grant(src)

Proteins from dinosaur fossils are used by InGen as a source for the genetic code. The protein code can give a glimpse of what the DNA code looked like. In the novels the subject is only briefly touched upon, and in the films it is never directly mentioned. In both media, DNA in Amber is the main source of genetic material; proteins were only "backup". At the time that the novel was written, the presence of proteins in fossils was scientifically controversial. For a long time most scientists believed that fossils had lost all of its biological material. This view only began to change in 2007 after soft-tissue vessels and proteins were discovered in a T. rex bone.[1]

Scientific controversy Edit


Mary Higby Schweitzer

"Technically, it's all rock. The calcium in the bones is replaced during fossilization."
Billy Brennan(src)

For a long time most scientists believed that fossils had lost all of its biological material during the fossilization process. In 1997 scientists DeSalle and Lindley wrote the book How To Build A Dinosaur:

Because bones are porous, water seeps through them, leaching out the organic  
content and filling the spaces with mineral material. The trickling water carries 
atoms of silicon, nitrogen, and carbon in the original material. The process is 
unimaginably slow, taking thousands of years to be completed; the replacement of 
organic by inorganic material proceeds almost an atom at a time... What used to 
be bone has become, quite literally, stone - a stone in the shape of the dinosaur 
bone it once was. ... all the organic material has been replaced by 

under construction

60 Minutes Presents B-Rex14:11

60 Minutes Presents B-Rex

However, this claim was disproven in 2007 when Mary Higby Schweitzer found soft tissues and collagen proteins in the bone of a T. rex.[3] Further studies in 2008 revealed soft tissues and collagen in the hadrosaur Brachylophosaurus.[4] These reports were controversial, but further study supports the hypothesis that these proteins are endogenous [5].

Prognathodon was a mosasaur that lived 70 mya in Belgium. Lindgren and his team analysed the creature's exceptionally preserved humerus (IRSNB 1624) for proteins and DNA. They wanted to make sure the biomolecules were not contamination. They used multiple techniques and worked exceptionally sterile. Separate lab coats were worn at each experiment. They found relatively large quantities of fibrous matter and located type I collagen.[6]

In 2013, scientists discovered proteins in embryonic fossils of the dinosaur Lufengosaurus in China. This is the oldest record of unfossilized organic material in a terrestrial vertebrate.[7]

Jurassic Park media Edit

John Hammond had started a laboratory called "Medical Biologic Services" in Salt Lake to extract the proteins from dinosaur bones.

List of discovered proteins from dinosaur fossils Edit

Tyrannosaurus rex Edit

Name: Collagen, type I, alpha 1

Amino Acid sequence:[8]

       1 gatgapgiag apgfpgarga pgpqgpsgap gpkxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx
      61 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx
     121 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx
     181 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx
     241 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxgv qgppgpqgpr
     301 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx
     361 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx
     421 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxgs agppgatgfp
     481 gaagrxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx
     541 xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx xgvvglpgqr

Name: Collagen, type I, alpha 2[9]

Amino Acid sequence:

      1 glpgesgavg pagpigsr

Name: Collagen, type II, alpha 1[10]

Amino Acid sequence:

      1 glvgapglrg lpgk

Brachylophosaurus Edit

Name: Collagen, type I, alpha 2[11]

Amino Acid sequence:

      1 gsngepgsag ppgpaglrgl pgesgavgpa gppgsr

Name: Collagen, type I, alpha 1[12]

Amino Acid sequence:

       1 gatgapgiag apgfpgargp sgpqgpsgap gpkgvqgppg pqgprgltgp igppgpagap
      61 gdkgeagpsg ppgptgargs agppgatgfp gaagrgetgp agpagppgpa gar

Sources Edit

  1. Schweitzer MH, Wittmeyer JL, Horner JR, Toporski JK, Soft-Tissue Vessels and Cellular Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex, Science, Vol. 307 no. 5717, 1952-1955. DOI: 10.1126/science.1108397
  2. DeSalle R, Lindley D, The Science Of Jurassic Park And The Lost World Or, How To Build A Dinosaur, HarperCollins, 1997, page 8-9.
  3. Schweitzer and team (2007). Analyses of Soft Tissue from Tyrannosaurus rex Suggest the Presence of Protein
  4. Schweitzer and team (2008). Biomolecular Characterization and Protein Sequences of the Campanian hadrosaur B. canadensis
  5. Schweitzer et al (2011). Dinosaur Peptides Suggest Mechanisms of Protein Survival, PLOS ONE.
  6. Lindgren J, Uvdal P, Engdahl A, Lee AH, Alwmark C, et al. (2011) Microspectroscopic Evidence of Cretaceous Bone Proteins. PLoS ONE 6(4): e19445. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019445
  7. Reisz et al (2013). Embryology of Early Jurassic dinosaur from China with evidence of preserved organic remains
  8. P0C2W2.2, ncbi database
  9. P0C2W4.1, ncbi database
  10. P0C2W3.1, ncbi database
  11. P86290.1, ncbi database
  12. P86289.1, ncbi database

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