Carbon dating dinosaur fossils

Contents

  1. Accessibility Navigation
  2. Carbon 14 in Dinosaur bones - Scientific Evidence - The BioLogos Forum
  3. Considering Contamination
  4. How Do Scientists Determine the Age of Dinosaur Bones?

Heme is a part of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood and gives red blood cells their color. If particles of that one dinosaur were able to hang around for 65 million years, maybe the textbooks were wrong about fossilization. Schweitzer tends to be self-deprecating, claiming to be hopeless at computers, lab work and talking to strangers. And asking unusual questions took a lot of nerve.

Schweitzer takes risks, says Karen Chin, a University of Colorado paleontologist. In , Bob Harmon, a field crew chief from the Museum of the Rockies, was eating his lunch in a remote Montana canyon when he looked up and saw a bone sticking out of a rock wall. That bone turned out to be part of what may be the best preserved T. Over the next three summers, workers chipped away at the dinosaur, gradually removing it from the cliff face. They called it B. In , they encased a section of the dinosaur and the surrounding dirt in plaster to protect it. It turned out Bob had been misnamed. On the hollow inside surface of the femur, Schweitzer had found scraps of bone that gave a surprising amount of information about the dinosaur that made them.

Pregnant women use calcium from their bones to build the skeleton of a developing fetus.


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  4. ‘Carbon-14-dated dinosaur bones less than 40,000 years old’ report scrapped from conference website.

Before female birds start to lay eggs, they form a calcium-rich structure called medullary bone on the inside of their leg and other bones; they draw on it during the breeding season to make eggshells. In fact, they say that birds are dinosaurs—colorful, incredibly diverse, cute little feathered dinosaurs.


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  • The theropod of the Jurassic forests lives on in the goldfinch visiting the backyard feeder, the toucans of the tropics and the ostriches loping across the African savanna. To understand her dinosaur bone, Schweitzer turned to two of the most primitive living birds: In the summer of , she asked several ostrich breeders for female bones. A farmer called, months later.

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    Schweitzer and two colleagues collected a leg from the fragrant carcass and drove it back to Raleigh. As far as anyone can tell, Schweitzer was right: Bob the dinosaur really did have a store of medullary bone when she died.


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    • Can We Use Carbon 14 Dating On Dinosaur Bones.
    • A paper published in Science last June presents microscope pictures of medullary bone from ostrich and emu side by side with dinosaur bone, showing near-identical features. In the course of testing a B. One Friday night in January , Wittmeyer was in the lab as usual. She took out a fossil chip that had been in the acid for three days and put it under the microscope to take a picture. She used forceps to flatten it. I was like, stop it! Suddenly Schweitzer and Wittmeyer were dealing with something no one else had ever seen.

      For a couple of weeks, Wittmeyer said, it was like Christmas every day. In the lab, Wittmeyer now takes out a dish with six compartments, each holding a little brown dab of tissue in clear liquid, and puts it under the microscope lens. Inside each specimen is a fine network of almost-clear branching vessels—the tissue of a female Tyrannosaurus rex that strode through the forests 68 million years ago, preparing to lay eggs. Close up, the blood vessels from that T. Of course, what everyone wants to know is whether DNA might be lurking in that tissue.

      But DNA, which carries the genetic script for an animal, is a very fragile molecule. Instead, Schweitzer has been testing her dinosaur tissue samples for proteins, which are a bit hardier and more readily distinguished from contaminants. Collagen makes up much of the bone scaffolding, elastin is wrapped around blood vessels and hemoglobin carries oxygen inside red blood cells. Because the chemical makeup of proteins changes through evolution, scientists can study protein sequences to learn more about how dinosaurs evolved.

      And because proteins do all the work in the body, studying them could someday help scientists understand dinosaur physiology—how their muscles and blood vessels worked, for example. Proteins are much too tiny to pick out with a microscope. To look for them, Schweitzer uses antibodies, immune system molecules that recognize and bind to specific sections of proteins.

      Carbon 14 in Dinosaur bones - Scientific Evidence - The BioLogos Forum

      Schweitzer and Wittmeyer have been using antibodies to chicken collagen, cow elastin and ostrich hemoglobin to search for similar molecules in the dinosaur tissue. At an October paleontology conference, Schweitzer presented preliminary evidence that she has detected real dinosaur proteins in her specimens. Further discoveries in the past year have shown that the discovery of soft tissue in B.

      Schweitzer and Wittmeyer have now found probable blood vessels, bone-building cells and connective tissue in another T. This drives Schweitzer crazy.

      Considering Contamination

      After the AOGS-AGU conference in Singapore, the abstract was removed from the conference website by two chairmen because they could not accept the findings. Unwilling to challenge the data openly, they erased the report from public view without a word to the authors. When the authors inquired, they received this letter: The abstract was apparently noot reviewed properly and was accepted in error. They did not look at the data and they never spoke with the researchers.

      How Do Scientists Determine the Age of Dinosaur Bones?

      They did not like the test results, so they censored them. Carbon is considered to be a highly reliable dating technique. Thomas Seiler, a physicist from Germany, gave the presentation in Singapore. He said that his team and the laboratories they employed took special care to avoid contamination. That included protecting the samples, avoiding cracked areas in the bones, and meticulous pre-cleaning of the samples with chemicals to remove possible contaminants.

      Knowing that small concentrations of collagen can attract contamination, they compared precision Accelerator Mass Spectrometry AMS tests of collagen and bioapatite hard carbonate bone mineral with conventional counting methods of large bone fragments from the same dinosaurs. The theoretical limit for C dating is , years using AMS, but for practical purposes it is 45, to 55, years.

      The half-life of C is years. If dinosaur bones are 65 million years old, there should not be one atom of C left in them. Many dinosaur bones are not petrified. Mary Schweitzer, associate professor of marine, earth, and atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University, surprised scientists in when she reported finding soft tissue in dinosaur bones. She started a firestorm of controversy in and when she reported that she had sequenced proteins in the dinosaur bone.

      Critics charged that the findings were mistaken or that what she called soft tissue was really biofilm produced by bacteria that had entered from outside the bone. Schweitzer answered the challenge by testing with antibodies. Her report in confirmed the presence of collagen and other proteins that bacteria do not make. In , a Swedish team found soft tissue and biomolecules in the bones of another creature from the time of the dinosaurs, a Mosasaur, which was a giant lizard that swam in shallow ocean waters.

      Schweitzer herself wonders why these materials are preserved when all the models say they should be degraded. That is, if they really are over 65 million years old, as the conventional wisdom says. Dinosaur bones with Carbon dates in the range of 22, to 39, years before present, combined with the discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones, indicate that something is indeed wrong with the conventional wisdom about dinosaurs.

      However, it has been hard to reach the public with the information.