Jonathan Warnock and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh and Northern Illinois University published an experimental study aimed at understanding
how soft tissues can be preserved in fossil bone. The article, appearing in the journal Frontiers, describes laboratory experiments recreating the processes of burial and bacterial colonization which occur during the early stages of bone fossilization.
Specifically, the experiments explored how the sediments from different environments in a river system, from channel to bank to floodplain, as well as bone condition upon burial related to bacterial biofilm formation. Biofilms clog the pore spaces in
bone, effectively sealing in blood, veins, and other soft tissues and allowing them to preserve as fossils.
The study helps scientists to understand the processes which preserved soft tissues recently discovered in dinosaur bone, as well as to help direct future searches for fossilized soft tissues.
Department of Geoscience