T-Rex Soft Tissue and Hell’s Creek

HellsCreekMap

In Montana, there is paleontologist’s dream formation known as the Hell Creek Formation 1

HellsCreek

 Image Source

Hell Creek is found within the badlands (i.e. an area containing sedimentary rock and clay-rich soils with rugged rills and gullies due to wind and erosion)

  • These badlands have a dry terrain where softer sedimentary rocks are mixed with clay in much greater proportions and as a result, act as a wonderful preservative 2
  • What makes this area such a good preservative is the presence of loamy soil – a mixture that has roughly equal parts of sand, silt, and clay 3

Palaeontology7

 

This soil is such a good preservative that soft tissue (Carbon based material, including DNA material, has been found) from numerous dinosaurs 4

Back in 1991, Paleontologist Mary Schweitzer was working on some bones belonging to a Tyrannosaurus Rex that had been found in the Montana badlands

  • Evolutionary thought holds that this T-Rex lived somewhere between 68 and 65 million years ago.
  • In working with molecular biologist, Gayle Callis, she discovered that the bones still contained red blood cells
  • This was the first time, modern science had ever come across soft dinosaur tissue (non-fossilized remains) 5

Further study revealed that this T-Rex has been a pregnant female at the point of death 6

Soft tissue has been found in several other dinosaurs and wooly mammoths since this ground breaking discovery in 1991 7

The likelihood that soft tissue could remain over millions of years seems quite suspect.  Medical Doctor Sean Pittman wrote about this find on his Detecting Design website.  His piece on this, raises some interesting questions:

 “This account was given by Mary Schweitzer, a PhD student at the time, from Montana State University.  A well preserved Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton had been found in 1990 and brought for analysis to Montana State University.  During microscopic examination of the fossilized remains, it was noted that some portions of the long bones had not mineralized, but were in fact original bone.  Upon closer examination it was noted that within the vascular system of this bone were what appeared to be red blood cells (note retained nucleus in the center of the apparent RBCs and the fact that reptiles and bird generally retain the RBC nucleus while mammals, like humans, do not). 50 Of course, this did not seem possible since the survival of intact red blood cells for some 65-million years seems very unlikely if not downright impossible.

Further testing of these cells was done to attempt to disprove the notion that they could possibly be red blood cells.  Several analytical techniques were used to characterize the material to include nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), Raman resonance and Raman spectroscopy (RR) and electron spin resonance (ESR).  These techniques did identify the presence of heme group molecules ranging in size from between 5,000 and 30,000 daltons (between 35 to over 200 amino acids in size), but the detection limits of these methods were not able to rule-out or rule-in the presence of hemoglobin or myoglobin proteins due to the small amount of specimen available.   So, Schweitzer and her team decided to use a more sensitive detection method to detect certain very specific types of proteins. They used the immune system of rats.  They injected some of the T. rex extract into laboratory rats to see if these rats would mount an immune response to the foreign T. rex material.  And, the rats did mount a very specific immune response against hemoglobin.  This immune response was not just against hemoglobin in general, but against certain types of hemoglobin.42 The reaction was strongest against pigeon and rabbit hemoglobin with a weak reaction against turkey hemoglobin, but there was no reaction against snake hemoglobin.  The specificity of these reactions were further confirmed by the lack of reactivity with plant and sandstone extracts.

 This is significant since many previous real time studies with protein decay suggest that sizable portions of protein sequences do not remain intact beyond a few tens of thousands of years at best (Fossils, Protein and DNA). Proteins and DNA usually decay very rapidly. Therefore, it would be quite something indeed to find significantly intact hemoglobin after tens of millions of years. Some have even suggested that significantly intact proteins would indicate that such fossils are not in fact tens of millions of years old, but were in fact recently buried within only a few tens of thousands of years at most.” 8

 Palaeontology8

Image Source

In 2009, the remains of a T-Rex were excavated from a plot of land in Dawson County, Montana (part of the Hell Creek formation)

  • What made this find so remarkable was the recovery of the dinosaur’s stomach and its contents
  • Dinosaurs are essentially reptiles and therefore would have had strongly acidic stomachs that dissolve their contents (including bone) rapidly
  • Crocodiles, for instance, can completely dissolve the bones of their prey in a matter of a few hours
  • The evidence would suggest that the creature drowned shortly after eating and ingested a great deal of water which acted like a base in neutralizing the stomach acids

The Hell Creek formation, in 2001, had yielded the first discovery of gut contents involving a T-Rex in history.  The 2009 discovery was the latest in a series of discoveries involving dinosaur organs

  • In both cases, it should be noted that the stomach contents and the dinosaur bones were found in rough proximity to one another
  • Water run-off though clearly has disturbed the bones and organs so that they are not in a nice singular formation
  • Such is the art of palaeontology…

Within the stomach of the T-Rex found in 2009,  the mandible of a small mammal (perhaps a lemur) was found

Conclusion:

  • The T-Rex in question likely died during a “Flood” event that caused the acidic stomach to be neutralized
  • Mammals and Dinosaurs were contemporaries 9

 

Notes:

  1. Information and Image Source: http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/science/parks/hellcreek.php
  2. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/science/parks/hellcreek.php
  3. http://home.howstuffworks.com/what-is-loam-soil.htm, Cuozzo, Jack “A Partial Mandible in the Stomach Contents of a Tyrannosaurus Rex”; Creation Research Society Quarterly 2013. Volume 49; pages 265 – 280
  4. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur.html 
  5. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur.html
  6. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur.html
  7. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur.htmlhttp://kgov.com/2013-list-of-not-so-old-things
  8. http://www.detectingdesign.com/fossilrecord.html#Soft_Tissue
  9. Cuozzo, Jack “A Partial Mandible in the Stomach Contents of a Tyrannosaurus Rex”; Creation Research Society Quarterly 2013. Volume 49; pages 265 – 280