11192017

‘Blood cells’ found in dino fossils

Red blood cell-like structures

Circular structures like the one near the centre of this picture are thought to be the remains of red blood cells

Researchers have discovered what appear to be the remnants of red blood cells and connective tissue in 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils.

The work could shine a light on long-standing questions about dinosaur physiology, including whether specific species were warm- or cold-blooded.

Chemical analysis revealed similarities between blood cells from fossils and those from living emu.

The work appears in the journal Nature Communications.

Examining part of a fossilised dinosaur claw, the Imperial College London researchers identified tiny ovoid structures with an inner denser core that resembled red blood cells.

And in another fossil fragment, they found fibrous features with a banded structure similar to that seen in modern-day collagen – found in the tendons, skin and ligaments of animals.

It’s not the first time such remnants have been found in dinosaur fossils, but co-author Susannah Maidment told BBC News: “All of the previous reports of original components of soft tissues in dinosaur fossils have tended to be in specimens that are really exceptionally preserved – one-offs, really, that require special pleading to explain how they got preserved.”

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