SOFT TISSUE SURROGATES FROM AN SEM SURVEY OF FOSSIL MATERIAL FROM THE LANCE AND HELL CREEK FORMATIONS
KAYE, Thomas, Prospect Heights, IL; SAWLOWICZ, Zbigniew, Jagiellonian Univ.,
Krakow, Poland; GAUGLER, Gary, Microtechnics Inc., Granite Bay, CA; STIPANOVIC,
Bozidar, APL Biopurification Technologies, Highland Park, IL
Prompted by recent excitement in the scientific community surrounding the discovery of soft tissues in Tyrannosaurus rex bone, a survey was undertaken in an attempt to discover these tissues in situ. A variety Lance and Hell Creek specimens including triceratops, hadrosaur, ankylosaur, champtosaur and well-preserved small bones were examined under the scanning electron microscope (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). Many likely structures were identified and found in surprisingly common numbers. Micron-sized spheres containing iron and oxygen were identified as an oxidized sub-group of common sulfur-iron framboids. Filamentous mats and non-bone coatings were imaged in the open vascular canals showing evidence of microbial movement though a viscous film. Characteristic micron size pores on both the canal walls and the framboid surfaces, suggested the presence of desiccated biofilms. Quartz crystals with attached framboids suggested a prolonged time line for framboid and biofilm development. Further analysis after digestion in acid, showed that these structures resembled presumed dinosaurian soft tissues but this study suggested that they were in fact microbiologic and mineral in origin with a morphology that could allow for multiple interpretations. Additional surveys of ammonoids from the Pierre Shale and bone from the White River Group also contained these same structures indicating that morphology alone is not a reliable identification method for soft tissues. Consequently, this survey suggests, that a biologic testing regiment is required to determine affinities and ages of biomollecules.