Pregnant T. Rex fossil found. Well, that’s news! More interestingly, there may be preserved DNA. Are you remembering Jurassic Park? There is no need to be afraid as of now. Scientists aren’t really sure that preserved DNA can be found. They are only speculating that finding DNA is possible because they found a very unusual bone in the fossil.
Pregnant T. Rex Fossil – Confirmation of Pregnancy
Before we delve deeper into the subject, we need to say that the discovery is pretty old but the news has been broken only recently in Scientific Reports. It all started back in 2005 when Mary Schweitzer, State paleontologist from North Carolina along with the author of the paper published in Scientific Reports (link above) identified a medullary bone in the femur of the fossil in question. The fossil of this 16-year old (at the time of death) female dinosaur was dug up from Montana and scientists have estimated it to be 68 million years old.
From modern knowledge of birds, we know that medullary bone is only a temporary bone, which is known to appear and disappear. The bone is formed right before laying eggs and also during laying eggs. The purpose of this bone is help with the formation of shell of the eggs that are laid. Once the eggs are laid, the bone disappears. This description comes from paleontologist and co-author of the paper – Lindsay Zanno. Zanno works as a paleontologist at N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.
Zanno explains that this bone or the special tissue helps to prevent calcium loss from main bones during egg shell formation, preventing their bones from becoming weak. This tissue works as a temporary calcium storehouse.
The problem is that the medullary bone is temporary and exists for no longer than 3 to 4 weeks. This means that the probability of finding this bone in a fossil is extremely low. Thus, discovery of a T. Rex fossil with a medullary bone is really fascinating.
Now, what’s the relation of birds and T. Rex? According to scientists, the modern day birds actually came from T. Rex and several other theropod dinosaurs. In modern birds, the medullary bone is known to have keratan sulfate. Mary Schweitzer decided to run some tests on the pregnant T. Rex fossil bones and found keratan sulfate. This led to the confirmation that the dinosaur was actually pregnant at the time of her death.
DNA in Pregnant T. Rex Fossil
Scientific studies on bones confirmed that it was a pregnant T. Rex fossil that was found in Montana. However, the question is, “where is the DNA?” It is not really confirmed though. According to Lindsay Zanno, some evidences of DNA fragments have been found in the medullary bone but the confirmation can be given only after further tests have been run. Lindsay also said that whether DNA is found or not is something we need to wait for but it is a fact that finding a pregnant T. Rex fossil will definitely give the scientific community some important insights into how the female dinosaurs lived and behaved.
To be more precise, Lindsay said that the dinosaurs weren’t at all shy of showing off their sexual advances using features like frills and crests and horns and whistles but there were no reliable methods that would allow the scientists to distinguish between a male and a female dinosaur properly. But now that a pregnant T. Rex fossil has been dug up, a whole world of new possibilities has opened up.
The question that we definitely need to address here is, ‘if DNA is found, what will scientists do?” Will they create a new dinosaur? If they do decide to replicate a new dinosaur, the first one they will create is a Tyrannosaurs Rex. Well, we should be afraid of this. Nature decided to wipe out dinosaurs before humans came for a reason. We cannot coexist for sure! Nature knows better that all the brilliant minds on this planet taken together.