The Ultimate Soft Tissue in Dinosaur Fossils Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Until a short while ago, standard scientific opinion held that the world is hundreds of millions of years old. Recently, the controversial discovery of soft tissue inside a dinosaur fossil has challenged that notion. Take our quiz and find out about the controversy.

What does fossilization do?

Fossilization is a real life Medusa -- it turns bone and other living things into stone, by replacing them with minerals.


What would fossilized skin feel like?

Even fossilized soft tissue like skin and organs would be hard, as minerals would replace them before they had a chance to decay, as is the case with "mummified" fossils.


What is the name of the scientist who first suggested that she found soft tissue inside a fossil?

Mary Higby Schweitzer, of North Carolina State University, discovered the apparent existence of soft tissue inside the fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex. She published her find in 2005 in the journal Science.


In what year did paleontologist Bob Harmon find this Tyrannosaurus rex fossil?

Harman found a fossil of a Tyrannosaurus rex in Montana, in an area full of dinosaur fossils. Because the fossil was too heavy to be carried by a helicopter, it had to be split and some of its bones were sent to Schweitzer.


What did Schweitzer do differently from other paleontologists that led to her discovery of soft tissue?

Instead of preserving the fossil, as most paleontologists would do, she destroyed it by soaking it in acid. This should have led to the fossil's complete dissolution, instead it dissolved the mineral and revealed soft tissue inside.


What did the discovery of the medullary bone in the fossil reveal about the fossil?

The medullary bone is a bone that stores calcium for eggshell production, and is present in female birds when they are pregnant. This led to the assumption that this Tyrannosaurus rex specimen was female and pregnant.


To what did Schweitzer's team compare the fossil's bones?

Schweitzer's team compared the fossil's bones to the bones of an ostrich and found that the cortical bones were similar.


What did Schweitzer's team use to discover the presence of collagen in the fossil's bones?

Schweitzer's team used a mass spectrometer, a device that analyzes particles and atoms using a magnetic field.


What did Schweitzer's team find the fossil's amino acid sequences were similar to?

in 2007, Schweitzer's team found that the strings of amino acids they were able to isolate from the fossil were similar to those of a chicken, newts and frogs.


What do scientists agree on about Schweitzer's research?

Scientists agree that Schweitzer found tissue that shouldn't be there, according to the principles of fossilization. Some say that her research is not a breakthrough, because the tissue did not come from the fossil itself; rather the fossil was contaminated.


What do Schweitzer's critics use as evidence that the fossil was contaminated?

Critics say that the presence of peptides inside the fossil proves that it was contaminated, because peptides could not have survived so long inside a Cretaceous fossil. It is possible that the fossil came in contact with other human or animal remains, and it is their cells that were found inside the fossil.


What did a 2008 paper claim that Schweitzer's protein samples came from?

After performing 200 electron microscope analyses on dinosaur samples, a research team published their conclusion in a 2008 paper in the journal PLoS. They claimed that the samples found in the fossil came from bacterial microfilm.


What do Schweitzer's critics claim the red blood cells she found actually are?

Schweitzer's critics say that red blood cells she found were actually framboids, spherical collections of iron and oxygen.


What did Schweitzer's critics use to prove the materials she found were modern and not pre-historic?

Schweitzer's critics used carbon dating to determine the age of the samples she found. They found they were modern, not pre-historic.


What do scientists usually use to determine the age of fossils?

Scientists usually use radiometric dating to determine the age of fossils. They claim, using this method, that fossils are tens of millions of years old.


What group of people support Schweitzer's findings?

Creationists, people who believe the earth is less than 10,000 years old, support Schweitzer's findings as compelling evidence that the Earth is not as old as scientists claim it to be.


What impact did Schweitzer say her findings had on her Christian faith?

Schweitzer said her finds enriched, rather than conflicted with her Christian faith.


In response to her critics, what did Schweitzer do?

In an interview with National Geographic, Schweitzer stood by her findings. She suggested that perhaps the tissue had been preserved by a yet to be discovered ecological or biological process.


What tissues did Schweitzer claim to find?

Schweitzer and her team claimed they found blood vessels, bone matrix and osetocytes (cells which build bone) in the fossil of the Tyrannosaurus rex.


What did Schweitzer respond when she was criticized for publishing her findings too early?

Schweitzer admitted that she did publish her findings early, in order to acquire funding to carry out further research on the fossil.


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