Summer 2015 is the Summer of the Dinosaurs, apparently: just days before the newest Jurassic Park movie was released, scientists at Imperial College London made an astonishing discovery while examining a pile of “poorly preserved” 75 million-year-old dinosaur bones.
#TigerBlood is so 2011. This summer, it’s all about #DinoBlood.
The Washington Post and NBC News report that the bones contained traces of blood cells and soft tissue on the fossils, and this could provide scientists with a wealth of biological information about dinosaurs and could prove (or disprove) theories about how these animals lived and interacted.
It’s common for businesses and organizations to ignore large amounts of data that they already possess; in fact, over 99% of data in the world is never actually used. The archaeologists in London even noted that this recent discovery came from a source that was, quite literally, hidden in plain sight.
The eight bones had been dug up in Canada over 100 years ago and transported to the Natural History Museum in London, where they were held without proper preservation methods. Archaeologists have dated the bones back to the Cretaceous period, which lasted around 80 million years and ended 66 million years ago when dinosaurs went extinct.
The researchers published their discovery in Nature Communications on June 9, and Twitter users immediately began commenting on the news using the hashtag #DinoBlood.
According to the Post, the researchers initially inspected the bones because a discolored spot appeared on one and it was believed to be a result of contamination, possibly from a human. The team was astounded to find that the blood spot contained cells completely unlike human blood cells. When they began inspecting other samples from the same collection, they discovered remnants of collagen fibers that are typically found in bird bones.
The Post has stated that there was no DNA found on the fossils, so unfortunately a real-life Jurassic Park scenario is still not likely to happen. However, just because scientists may not be able to find DNA on dinosaur fossils now doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to find DNA fragments when better technology becomes available.