Buckley, M, Warwood, S, van Dongen, B, Kitchener, Andrew C and Manning, Phillip L (2017) A fossil protein chimera; difficulties in discriminating dinosaur peptide sequences from modern cross-contamination. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 284 (1855). ISSN 1471-2954

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A decade ago, reports that organic-rich soft tissue survived from dinosaur fossils were apparently supported by proteomics-derived sequence information of exceptionally well-preserved bone. This initial claim to the sequencing of endogenous collagen peptides from an approximately 68 Myr Tyrannosaurus rex fossil was highly controversial, largely on the grounds of potential contamination from either bacterial biofilms or from laboratory practice. In a subsequent study, collagen peptide sequences from an approximately 78 Myr Brachylophosaurus canadensis fossil were reported that have remained largely unchallenged. However, the endogeneity of these sequences relies heavily on a single peptide sequence, apparently unique to both dinosaurs. Given the potential for cross-contamination from modern bone analysed by the same team, here we extract collagen from bone samples of three individuals of ostrich, Struthio can-telus. The resulting LC MS/MS data were found to match all of the proposed sequences for both the original Tyrannosaurus and Brachylophosaurus studies. Regardless of the true nature of the dinosaur peptides, our finding highlights the difficulty of differentiating such sequences with confidence. Our results not only imply that cross-contamination cannot be ruled out, but that appropriate measures to test for endogeneity should be further evaluated.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ancient collagen; dinosaur protein; ostrich; palaeoproteomics; Tyrannosaurus; Brachylophosaurus
Subjects: A General Works > AS Academies and learned societies (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QL Zoology
Theme: Understanding the natural world
Department: Natural Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ross Anderson
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2017 09:40
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2017 14:27
URI: http://repository.nms.ac.uk/id/eprint/1880

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