En dinosauriegrav från Skåne: mikrobiologiska, tafonomiska och paleomolekylära aspekter av exceptionellt välbevarade theropodben

Tidsperiod: 2019-01-01 till 2022-12-31

Projektledare: Katarzyna Zaremba-Niedzwiedzka

Finansiär: Vetenskapsrådet

Bidragstyp: Bidrag för anställning eller stipendier

Budget: 3 600 000 SEK

Exceptionally well-preserved remains of a large theropod dinosaur have recently been found in Skåne. Outstanding details of the bones are visible with the naked eye but does that mean there is a potential for extracting molecules from them? Mounting evidence support that the preservation potential of bone proteins can span millions of years. Such data transforms our knowledge by offering unique molecular insights into how proteins evolved through time, affected by large-scale changes in climate and ecosystems. However, obtaining endogenous paleomolecules is still an exceptional event and the methodology is far from standardized. Criteria for authentication – commonly based on morphology, histology, fine-scale microscopy, elemental analysis, immunology and mass spectrometry – are subject to heated debates. Much of the controversy stems from contamination problems, including a discussion of whether the observed structures and detected biomolecules are endogenous (i.e. from the dinosaur) or of microbial origin. What are the microbes in fossils? Microbes certainly aid in the decomposition of organic material but they also seem to act in its preservation by, for example, forming biofilms on bones and encapsulating proteins for millions of years. Recently developed culture-independent techniques allow studying such an unusual environment and providing the microbiological background for better understanding and contamination control of the molecular paleontology results.